In the spring of 2011, Lynn Berns learned that the classic Georgian brick home on Sycamore Street was to be sold at an auction in May. The elegant old house was a landmark structure among the century-old homes in the community.
It had languished empty, on the market for several years, with ivy growing so thick the windows on the second story were no longer visible.
Berns attended an open house conducted by the real estate agent and was surprised to find the interior was not only sound, but still quite attractive. A subsequent inspection of the plumbing, electrical, and heating systems showed some minor problems, but nothing that was beyond repair.
With no more of a plan than to just save the house from deteriorating further, Berns bought it at the auction.
“Initially, I thought I’d fix it up and then see,” she said. “Then I thought it might be a nice idea if Peabody had another bed and breakfast business and that idea just kind of jelled.”
“The Prescotts were ancestors of my husband, Fred, and they built the house in 1923, so the name seemed like a logical fit even though several unrelated families had lived in it over the years,” she added. “After making that decision the project kind of took on a life of its own.”
When the school district began a search for a new superintendent after the first of the year, USD 398 Board of Education Treasurer Patti Gaines talked to Berns about the possibility of using Prescott House Bed and Breakfast as the board interviewed candidates for the position.
They needed a place where the spouses could wait out the interview process and they wanted to have a meal with the prospective candidates that was not in the cafeteria, but not in a busy restaurant either.
“I could see that the house would fit their needs and much of the exterior issues and the utility problems had been taken care of, so it was just the decorating that was left,” Berns said. “My niece is an interior decorator and she came to Kansas to help me out. I wanted to maintain the look of the era, but wanted people staying there to feel relaxed and comfortable. I didn’t want it fussy.”
Berns also got in touch with the Kansas Bed and Breakfast Association and attended a daylong conference to learn the regulations, codes, and licensing issues involved in operating a B&B.
“I have been pleased with the amount of use the house has gotten during the past year since the school board got the ball rolling,” she said. “The class of 1962 had a 50th reunion during Memorial Day and they used it extensively. We have had a baby shower, a come and go reception for the Peabody Community Foundation, and a 70th wedding anniversary where the entire family lived elsewhere and they all stayed here together for the whole weekend. And, of course, we’ve had people traveling through who just like to stay at a bed and breakfast.”
The house has radiator heat and central air, Internet access, television, fireplace, and a full kitchen. It can be rented in its entirety or by the bedroom. There are three bedrooms and two bathrooms.
Prescott House is easy to find on the Kansas Bed and Breakfast Association website and pictures of the interior accompany the description.
“So far it has been fun and it is rewarding to see it being lived in from time to time,” Berns said. “I can’t say I had higher expectations for it than that when I bought it, so I am pleased the way it all turned out.”