Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Country Inns: Heart of My Heart Ranch

Filled with family heirlooms, Heart of My Heart Ranch, in Round Top, Texas, offers a sense of history, comfort, and fine Lone Star fare.

"We built this farmhouse in 1980 as a setting for our family heirlooms, not to open an inn," admits Frances Harris, whose husband's ancestors settled in the Round Top area in the 1830's. But several years ago, with collectors and concert-goers flocking to local antiques fairs and the nearby music conservatory and finding nowhere to stay, the Harrises began to welcome travelers.

With its six structures and guest rooms stocked with ancestral furnishings, Heart of My Heart Ranch has since become a historical destination of sorts in itself.

Home on the Range

The twin-chimney farmhouse was built by owners Frances and Bill Harris on their working cattle ranch in 1980. It is one of six structures on the property. Another guest favorite is the 1836 log cabin that still stands on its original building site.

The 200-acre ranch — considered small by Texas standards — combines pastures, orchards, a lake, a pond, and a wealth of live oaks.

Family Heirlooms

In one of the farmhouse guest rooms a bed, bureau, and nightstand crafted in the 1830's are distinguished by walnut and Oriental monkeypod woods and elaborate carved detailing.

The crystal figurines and Limoges containers displayed on the chest of drawers are some of the many treasures inherited by innkeeper Bill Harris from his great-grandmother. Rooms throughout the ranch are filled with personal photos and collectibles recalling the history of the property and its present owners.

A Soothing Soak

For ranchhands and guests alike, no day would seem complete without a soothing bath. In the 1900's structure known as "Granny's Cottage," a scarlet painted six-foot-long tub makes a dramatic statement. The cast iron tub, with its original turn-of-the-century brass fittings, is set against whitewashed plank walls and dark painted floor and moldings.

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