Saving a historic hotel from the wrecker's ball

Chepstow Inn owner, Kym Hutcheon.

Chepstow Inn owner, Kym Hutcheon.

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By Jonathan Zettel

CHEPSTOW, ON—The owner of a bed and breakfast in the hamlet of Chepstow, ON, near Walkerton, 200 kilometres northwest of Toronto, has restored the historic King Edward Hotel, saving it from demolition.

Kym Hutcheon, a councillor with the municipality of Brockton, bought the property built in 1869 for $130,000 and opened a three-room bed and breakfast under the banner of the Chepstow Inn in mid-May.

Hutcheon told CLN a deal prior to her purchase would have seen many of the hotel’s original pieces—including the original bar—sold off and the building razed.

Pictures and stories

An open house drew more than 200 people who came through to see the renovations. “People came through with pictures and stories of their own,” Hutcheon said. “It was really nice to hear all their positive feedback … the community has been very supportive.”

The three rooms—the Hartlieb, the Fleming and the McNab—were named after previous owners of the building. Hutcheon, who went to school for fashion and interior design, designed each of the rooms, using some of the original artifacts.

Each refurbished room is smoke-free and has its own heat control, washroom, flat-screen television, beverage maker and desk with free wireless Internet.

Hutcheon said she spent more than the buying price on renovations. She has plans for a two-suite coach house at the back of the property and a spa in the basement of the building, but says the B&B will have to generate revenue before she starts those projects.

“There’s a lot of possibilities, it’s just stepping stones,” she said.

On the main floor, a dining room and a sitting room could hold at least 60 people for family events or meetings.

Restaurant in the works

Next summer, with the help of her daughter Mackenzie, Hutcheon hopes to launch an onsite restaurant on the main floor where the bar used to exist. She said the restaurant would fill the gap left after the Dunkeld Tavern burned down in March 2013.

The restaurant will offer local fare at an affordable price, she said pointing to the trend toward local, organic menu items.

Currently, a full breakfast is served, with gluten-free and vegetarian options available.

RTO 7 marketing pays off

Hutcheon said provincial tourism groups such as Ontario’s Regional Tourism Organization 7—which includes Simcoe, Grey and Bruce counties—have really pushed to market the area as a four-seasons destination. She said she is a member of the Walkerton Chamber of Commerce and has contributed a night’s stay as a prize for the Explore the Bruce campaign, which allows tourists to collect stamps from various destinations in the area. The inn is also advertised through BBCanada.com.

Hutcheon said the venue is available for weddings and will house events including psychic readings, scrapbooking and family history research.

Each room is $110 per night or $120 for a double occupancy with check-in times after 4 p.m. and check-out by 11 a.m.