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Christmas At The Inn

Innkeepers Jeffrey Peterson and Maggie Bryan-Peterson make final adjustments to Christmas decorations at Edwards Waterhouse Inn. Photos by Beverly Kehe-Rowland

The beautiful Edwards Waterhouse Inn at 71 Central Ave. in Fredonia has a long history, as would be expected of a home built in the 1800s. The original house was built in 1850 by Francis S. Edwards, a United States Congressman. After Dr. John Waterhouse took possession, a massive addition, plus a third floor and a tower were added in 1888. Later, the home became the alumni hall for Fredonia College. Eventually it was divided into five apartments used for student housing, with some of the beautiful architectural details altered or covered. Much of the magnificent woodwork was damaged or completely removed. Jeffrey Peterson and Maggie Bryan-Peterson purchased the property in 2000.

“It was a restoration project,” says Maggie.

The co-owners started by gutting and rebuilding the four apartments in the carriage house behind the main structure. From there they began restoring the house.

Terry Saye Woodworking from Bemus Point replicated woodwork found in the home that was made over a century before.

“He designed piers and posts that had been removed from the grand parlor, utilizing the detailing from other areas of the house,” says Peterson.

“He did a wonderful job. We were thrilled,” says his partner.

During this time the couple rented three 10-feet by 20-feet storage units. Ingersoll Painting and Construction from Buffalo was hired as the general contractor. Local plumbers and electricians were used.

Carpet dating back to 1945 was glued to the floor with new walls built atop. While Jeff was sanding and staining wood floors, tiling bathrooms and fireplaces and doing regular maintenance, Maggie was painting walls, making draperies and shopping for fixtures and furnishings. She was able to find two large chandeliers on eBay that may be similar to those that were originally found in the house. They arrived in pieces with no glass shades.

“Each one needed a little TLC,” she says. “I had to find shades made of Viane glass, which is French acid-etched glass.”

She has painted most of the interior of the home three times since they took possession, with a focus on making the colors historically accurate. The sewing skills she tweaked while she was the costumer for Lucille Ball Little Theater of Jamestown, came in handy.

“Sometimes all that we did was a blur. It just doesn’t seem possible,” she says of the amazing accomplishment of taking the nearly 8,000-square-foot structure from five apartments to a completed project in just six months.

Guests began staying at the bread and breakfast in June 2012, including celebrities such as Rita Moreno, Bill Nye and Canadian Brass.

The front entrance opens into a foyer with an Eastlake-style open staircase that is festooned with a garland of greenery, red ribbon, apples and poinsettias. Eye-catching gathered-cloth covers the foyer ceiling. The maroon Receiving Room with its white embossed ceiling can be seen through a doorway. The room’s chandelier is reflected in the large framed mirror that hangs above the white poinsettia decorated mantel above one of the homes five fireplaces. A tree in the same room is embellished with white and maroon decorations.

The fireplace mantle in the adjoining Grand Parlor has another elaborate poinsettia piece, this time in red. A cabinet displaying Geisha dolls is on the right of the fireplace. Two pairs of carved swan barrel chairs are centrally located by the pillars that divide the large room. A baby grand piano dominates the opposite end. A Jamestown-made Union National secretary is located nearby.

“We have had pop-up concerts and recitals in this room,” Peterson informs.

The dining room has versatile square tables that convert to 60-inch round tables or when left square, can be attached to one another. The focal point is another piece made by Union-National Furniture Company, a large cabinet filled with antique sets of china which are used with the Inn’s silver-plated eating utensils.

“It warms my heart when I am in the kitchen and can hear the conversations in the dining room,” says Bryan-Peterson.

Adjacent to the dining room is the Morning Room, named this because the early morning sun shines through its windows. This room, the room where the Waterhouses played bridge, has just one table and is used for one guest, a couple or for honeymooners.

The Snug, named by guests visiting from England, is a small room with a view of the back of the two-acre property, where deer can often be seen. The “four-step kitchen” named this because there are four steps between appliances, is where Bryan-Peterson makes delicious baked goods, special breakfast dishes and a wide variety of jams.

“It works very well,” she claims. “It is an entirely reclaimed kitchen with a rescued tin ceiling.”

She enjoys the challenge when asked to accommodate dietary restrictions or preferences and says non-vegans have requested some of the eye-appealing vegan dishes after seeing them.

The tiny prep kitchen, where Jeff makes take-away breakfasts for guests having an early flight or who are going fishing, located behind the four-step kitchen completes the tour of the first floor.

A long hall begins at the top of the front stairs leading to the second floor. A Christmas wreath has been hung on each door. The carpet in the Blue Room is an 1890s reproduction made of blue, brown and cream-colored fiber. The Tower Room, named this because it is located under the tower, boasts hand-painted Turkish tile in the bathroom. The tile in the bathroom off of the Georgian Room is made of marble. The beds in the Gilt Room are made from wood with a brass finish. The Ames Brother’s “The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane” framed sheet music hangs in this room. The travertine tile-covered fireplace in the Bombay Room is the only fireplace out of five, that was added to the house by the Petersons. The adjoining bathroom has a 1905 hand sink. Each bedroom with the exception of the Tower Room displays local artist, Lori Deemer’s work. A fitness room is at the end of the hall, near the back staircase.

The third floor where the Innkeeper’s live, is divided into two separate living areas, one in the front and the other near the back, with a centrally located shared kitchen.

Guests enter the Inn at the back of the house, where the parking lot is located.

The majestic Queen Ann Victorian home can be yours! It is for sale. “Maggie and Jeff are wonderful stewards of the property and are most gracious hosts. It is an elegant property with owners who greet you like you are family,” says Roberta Thompson, the Peterson’s realtor. “The breakfasts are gourmet and often include a treasured family recipe. It is no wonder that many of their guests are repeat customers. It is also no wonder that the lovely apartments in the carriage house are always occupied with potential tenants on a waiting list hoping for future openings.”

The Innkeepers have contributed some favorite recipes that may be served over the Christmas holidays.

Her mother used to make Scottish Shortbread holding a large bowl in her lap while mixing the batter by hand.

“They melt in your mouth,” says the daughter.

Jeff’s mother’s Almond Skorpors are great for dipping into coffee. Maggie refers to them as Swedish biscotti and says one end can be dipped into chocolate to dress them up a bit.

“My family’s Tomato Marmalade came over on the boat with my great-grandparents from Scotland,” says Bryan-Peterson. “The Cranberry Cheese Bread is my family favorite and is great toasted and buttered.”

Fruity Baked Oatmeal is a popular warm breakfast offering at the Inn.

Visit edwardswaterhouseinn.com to check availability of rooms. To inquire about catered or uncatered affairs or for information about business meetings call 672-6751.

Scottish Shortbreads

2/3 c butter

1 3/4 c flour

1/3 c sugar

1/4 c cornstarch

Knead butter and sugar together and then gradually add flour. When the flour is completely worked in, roll out to 1/2-inch and cut (or flatten in cookie sheet). Bake in 325-degree oven until pale brown. If baked as a sheet, cut into traditional diamonds while slightly warm.

Almond Skorpor

1 c butter

2 eggs

3 c flour

1 c sugar

2 tsp baking powder

3 T sour cream

1/8 tsp baking soda

1 tsp almond extract

Cream butter and eggs. Add flour, sugar, baking powder, sour cream, baking soda and almond extract. Mix thoroughly. This should be a very stiff dough. Make 2 long strips on cookie sheet, each about 6-inches wide by about 11/2-inches thick. Bake at 350 degree until brown. While still hot, cut into fingers using a large knife to cut through in a single cut, not sawing through the tender dough. Put back in 250 degree oven to dry for 45 minutes. Leave in oven until cool.

Cranberry Cheese Bread

1 1/2 c cranberries

1/2 c sugar

2 c flour

3/4 c sugar

1 T baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 c chopped nuts

2 tsp orange peel grated

1 1/2 c shredded Cheddar cheese

1 egg, slightly beaten

1 c milk

1/2 c butter, melted and cooled

Wash and sort cranberries. Put berries and 1/2 c sugar in food processor and chop. In a large bowl, blend flour, 3/4 c sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix in cranberries, nuts, orange peel and cheese. Beat egg, milk and butter together. Add to mix in bowl, and stir until moist (do not overmix). Turn into greased loaf pan and spread into corners. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely before slicing.

Cheddar Cheese Soup

1/2 c celery, chopped

1/2 c carrots, chopped

2 T butter

3 c chicken stock

6 oz grated cheddar cheese (the sharper the cheese, the stronger the flavor)

6 oz cubed Velveeta Cheese (I know, but it tastes good in soup)

1/3 c light cream or half and half

1/4 c flour (approximately)

1 c milk

1 1/2 tsp paprika

Pepper

1 1/2 tsp onion powder

1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce (I always add more)

Optional: Mushrooms, cooked potatoes, broccoli, etc. May, also, add a splash or two of flat beer for a richer flavor. Cook carrots and celery in butter for 5 minutes. Add chicken broth (and any other vegetable options you want) and bring to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes. Add cheese and stir until melted. Add cream, flour and milk, then seasoning and Worcestershire. Cook on medium to low heat until thickened. Serve.

To make a smoother soup (it sometimes separates) make a slurry of cornstarch and water and add to the soup. Let simmer for about 10 minutes to “cure” the corn starch. This is a great soup base. You can leave vegetables in larger chunks or do as I did and use a hand blender in the pot to make it smoother. Yields 2-4 servings.

Fruity Baked Oatmeal

3 c quick oats

1 c brown sugar, packed

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 c fat-free milk

1/2 c butter, melted

3/4 c apple, chopped

1/3 c peaches, chopped (drain if using canned)

1/3 c blueberries

In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients. Combine all wet ingredients except fruit.

Mix wet ingredients with dry and then add fruit. Pour into an 8-inch square baking dish that has been coated with non-stick cooking spray. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cut into squares. Serve warm with milk or vanilla yogurt, if desired.

Mother’s Tomato Marmalade

5 lbs ripe tomatoes

2 Valencia oranges

1 lemon

Sugar

Peel tomatoes into a large pot. Heat to boiling and cook for about 20 minutes. Drain off excess juice. This is an important step as the less liquid there is, the shorter the cooking time. In a food processor, grind citrus fruits with peels. Mix ground citrus with tomatoes. Measure cup for cup, sugar to tomato citrus mixture. Combine in a shallow, open pan. Bring to a light boil, stirring continuously. Cook until thick over low/medium heat, while stirring continuously as sugar will scorch easily and ruin the marmalade. This will take perhaps 1 hour. The jam should “sheet” off a spoon if it is the correct texture. Ladle the reduced mixture into hot jars with sterilized lids and rings. Tighten the rings firmly and let cool. The lids popping indicates that the jar is sealed. Cool. Store in a cupboard and do not use for at least 1 month allowing flavors to meld and natural pectin to set.

NOTE: This jam is harder to make than it looks. It is very easy to scorch the sugar if not patient and mindful of the heat. Also, it can often be too thin if the time for cooking is not observed. Certo or Sure-Gel, cannot be used as the sugar will burn before the pectin is activated.

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