Sixteen years ago I bought an inn. It wasn’t a rash act, although I think my mother and father viewed it as such by the look on their very concerned faces when I told them what I had decided to do. My parents seemed to sum it all up one rainy spring morning in April, when they came down from Dallas to view my purchase. As they walked through the front door of the Great Hall, an old 19th century tobacco barn, they exclaimed with alarm, “what have you done?” I began to ask myself the same question once the enormity of the decision I had made began to sink in. Because, you see, I had no earthly idea what I was doing.
I first became aware of Hoffman Haus when my real estate agent brought me a flyer describing the place. Immediately the two of us began to skylark, ultimately rationalizing that it would be a good venue to compliment the cooking school I had just opened when I moved to the Texas Hill Country. Whether it was logic, or the influence of a second glass of wine, I made an appointment with her to take a tour. The next morning I drove up the driveway, circled into the parking space in front of Calico Cottage, looked around and took a deep breath.
I was smitten.
This is where my adventure began. With no previous experience and a vague notion of what it takes to own an inn, I bought a twelve-room bed and breakfast, thinking I would figure out how to manage it as I bumped along. The inevitable discoveries of recalcitrant, poorly installed plumbing; bed frames held together by chicken wire; of rooms stuffed to the brim with garishly mismatched furnishings, reduced me to disbelief that anyone in their right mind would pay to stay with us.
As I gradually began to peel off the layers of neglect a property collects when it has been through several owners, a beautiful old girl emerged, delighted to be taken care of and loved. The funnily endearing stories that have accumulated over the years, usually starting with the opening line “you can’t make this stuff up”, have been told and retold with amusement
and the occasional admonishment “you need to write a book!” There are always unexpected surprises that pop up, which for many years made me feel I would never get the hang of this business. But a gradually emerging pride of place began to develop as my extraordinary staff helped me bring to life a charming retreat that creates so much peace and tranquility for those who stay here. Hoffman Haus has become a part of the fabric of many lives, those of my children and grandchildren, the incredible people I work with, returning and new guests, our precious community, they all make up my HH family.
This project began with enough naiveté to see me through what owning a bed and breakfast really means. I have learned a great deal, and I love what I do. It is my story now, with wonderful additions every day. The first steps were a little unsettling, but after all these years I feel sure-footed, content to know that the original vision of the original owner has been elegantly realized, with my imprint on it as well.
He called Hoffman Haus the most enchanting guesthouse in Fredericksburg . . . and I believe it is.