Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Country Inns: Frederick-Talbott

Just north of Indianapolis, the Frederick-Talbott Inn offers country comforts, pastoral calm, and a faithful look back at the region's past.

Two and a half years ago, Susan Muller and Ann Irvine opened the Frederick-Talbott Inn in Indianapolis, Indiana. Here, a mere six miles from the state capital, the creative pair converted an 1870's farmhouse and a 1906 cottage into a 10-room inn that offers visitors a taste of Midwestern farming life in the 19th century.

Located across the road from Conner Prairie, a living-history museum that re-creates an 1836 village, the inn is filled with regional antiques, auction finds, and reminders of days gone by. "Every object in the inn has a story," Susan explains. When the downtown Indianapolis department store L.S. Ayres & Co. closed down in 1992 after 120 years in business, the partners acquired the tearoom's tables, leather-seat side chairs, and place settings for their inn. "We probably sat in many of these chairs as kids," Susan muses.

"We thought a rooster print was an appropriate presence in the breakfast room where guests congregate to start the day," says Susan. "And we paid all of one dollar at an auction for our breakfast buffet table." Ann marbleized the two-tiered table for a low-key verdigris effect. The same color distinguishes the mantel, an auction purchase that replaced a decayed 70-year-old original. The armoire in the corner once served as a railroad employee's locker at Indianapolis's Union Station.

A Country Corner

The inn's Gothic-style farmhouse (foreground) has been enlarged to accommodate nine guest rooms with private baths. The new wing's tall, narrow windows echo those of the 19th-century brick structure. A 1906 cottage (in the background) that Susan and Ann moved to the property now houses the breakfast porch and a honeymoon suite. A courtyard connects the two buildings.

A Bright Room

The honeymoon suite is a charming, airy room, filled with light colors and lacy textures. A wallpaper border highlights the angles of the dormer window. Ann painted the bed's headboard, whitewashing its carved motif for a decorative effect. The history of the half trunk, which the partners bid for at a local auction, remains a mystery.

Attractive Amenities

Bathroom vanities were constructed by local carpenters who combined hand-carved dining-room-table legs and drawer fronts that Ann and Susan bought at auction. The dusty rose color on the wall is reminsicent of the strong colors Dutch and German settlers used to decorate their homes when they came to America.

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