Stressed? Double Check.
Plan to check your baggage and your luggage at the door at the bed and breakfast on Front and Center streets in Milan.
To say this house and its owner are welcoming and inviting is an enormous understatement. Stepping into Judy Harkelroad's Angel Welcome Bed & Breakfast is to enter into an angel emporium.
Judy has felt the touch of angels since she was a young girl living in foster homes. Through her trials and tribulations, she always knew someone was watching out for her, "I felt someone's arms around me, protecting me." By opening up her home into a B&B, she can now share her serenity with others.
Angel Welcome Bed & Breakfast is situated in one of the six oldest homes in Milan. The Federal-style home was built for Daniel Hamilton in 1828. Hamilton, a leading citizen of Milan, was instrumental in the company that built the Milan Ship Canal and did his trading out of the general store he opened near his home in what is now the Key Bank building on Park and Front streets.
Judy moved into the house in 2001. It still has most of the original flooring. In fact, the original flooring from the kitchen now frames one of the home's eight fireplaces in the gathering room. There was no electricity in the ceilings of the house, so she has since added lights and fans to many of the rooms.
Judy hosts private lunches and teas as well as showers and birthday parties. Weather permitting, she also has private groups who come for garden parties and wedding events. She welcomes retreat groups and speaks about angels and God's presence in her life.
The first room you come to is the Tea Room. The room holds several small round tables and features a baby grand piano aside a fireplace. Angels of all sizes are strewn throughout the room.
Off the Tea Room is a formal dining room. The furniture in this room was bought with a keen eye for a deal and was purchased from the furniture mecca of High Point, N.C., generally referred to as the "Furniture Capital of the World." There are two prints on the wall that date back to the 1700s; The Lord's Supper and Resurrection of Christ. Judy is not sure of the origin of these prints, but the writing appears to be German.
Judy keeps the table in both the tea and dining rooms set and ready to go. Most days she has either B&B or private party guests, so she finds it easier to wash the dishes and put them back out so they are ready for the next meal.
The warm multi-colored tan marble countertop and full-length backsplash of her kitchen, or the galley as she refers to it, are a perfect shade complement to the oak cabinetry. Modern appliances make the room a chef's delight.
There is a small breakfast room off the Galley that has a master craftsman-built solid semi-precious stone table. The blues and corals, creams and greens create a stunning work of art. The table was an enormous expenditure and, always the bargain shopper, Judy asked the artist if he had any local dealers. When he said no, Judy offered to take on that task, and saved thousands by making that agreement. She effectively got the table for free by using her sharp business savvy and sales sense.
The Gathering Room is a place for guests to sit down and read a paper or watch a little television. The room is comfortable and cozy. The fireplace is accompanied by supple chairs, loveseats and sofa. The dark wood of the walls and flooring make this room serene and peaceful. There is another semi-precious stone inlaid table in this room that Judy had custom made. Inlayed into the center of the coffee table is a mosaic angel. When viewing the angel upside down, in one wing, the artist has created a visualization of the Virgin Mary carrying the baby Jesus. The company owned by the artist in Brazil who made both tables is called Stone Art. Judy says it involves a very long, tedious process to do this type of artwork. But the results are extraordinary and one-of-a-kind.
There is one bedroom downstairs and three bedrooms upstairs which each have a private bath for guests. Judy has named the guest rooms Peace, Hope, Faith and Love. A pillow on each bed is embroidered with the name of the room. Upstairs is another small room where guests can gather and share their day's experiences of visiting Milan and the surrounding area.
Judy says she has had hundreds of guests visit since opening, the farthest traveling from England. She can accommodate up to 12 guests in her home at one time.
With all these people coming and going, when asked what she does if she needs some quiet time, she relates that for her this isn't a problem. "I love people, sharing with people" and can go to her own room which has everything she needs if she does need a minute to herself.
This mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother is planning a wedding for this summer. She is terribly excited and quite enthusiastic about this second chance at marriage.
Judy had no experience with running a bed and breakfast, and had in fact only ever visited one prior to buying the house; however, she was not new to being a business owner, having previously owned Skate World in Sandusky, and she knew what she wanted to accomplish with this establishment, "My goal was to create a family."
She has more than accomplished her goal. With her army of angels at her side, she has made a home for herself surrounded by things she loves. And soon
a new husband will join her in this dream. This is a woman who is strengthened through her faith, fortified by her memories, and optimistic of her future. Her home is where she chooses to share her success with others.
A little piece of heaven in Milan? Double Check.