In 1996, Mark and Pam Cowan, from Elmira, wanted to move to a country setting. They found just the place along Big Pond Road near the Berwick Turnpike. They thought about having a bed and breakfast establishment, but it wasn’t big enough. Over the next three years, they put a lot of thought into what they were going to do.
“Mark was having trouble sleeping one night and came up with a plan,” said Pam.
Then one day, when Pam came home from work, there was a hole in the wall to the outside. It was the spring of 1999 and construction for their bed and breakfast had begun.
The Cowan’s added a 50-foot by 50-foot post and beam structure to the original house that was a garage downstairs with living quarters above it.
“It’s actually designed after a Dutch style barn,” said Mark. “Dutch barns are like this but with much steeper roofs. I wanted a roof I could walk on.”
The lumber was ordered from the Rough & Ready Saw Mill on Armenia
Mountain. Mark and Pam used local help. They hired a crane from Quinlan Tree Service. They hired for some other things, but most of the labor was done themselves. Of course family, friends, and neighbors all pitched in to help.
Randy and Terren Smith loaned their forklift.
“Duane Fay had a really good suggestion for slipping the posts into the foundation sleeves,” said Mark. “He told us to put pie shortening onto the ends of the posts. They’ll slip right in. And they did!”
“Afterward our dog was very interested in the base of the post,” said Pam. “And went around smelling each one!”
The outdoor work continued through the fall and they were enclosed by winter.
“We lucked out,” said Pam. “We had a dry warm fall that year.”
Once the building was enclosed, the indoor work began. All of the fine finishing, including inspections took several years. And before they officially opened as a bed and
breakfast in 2006, they utilized their beautiful addition for family gatherings.
Today, as The Old Mill Woods B & B they have a beautiful location offering nature trails, beaver ponds and fascinating wildlife.
“We’re just starting the process to become a designated nature conservation site,” said Mark.
The Old Mill Woods has five bedrooms plus an open loft area with extra beds. When all the beds are full they are able to accommodate 16 persons. There are five guest bathrooms, including one remodeled especially for handicapped accessibility.
They offer robes for all of their guests for the comfort of lounging. That is an
important aspect of staying there because the house has lots of nooks and crannies, and quiet areas. They have reading materials and plenty of good old-fashioned board games; but there is also Wi-Fi and TV with satellite. It’s the best of both – technology and get-away-from-it-all.
Mark and Pam serve what they call a country gourmet breakfast. No two mornings will be the same unless
your stay is over a week. They cater to individual diet needs, including gluten free.
“You get to choose when you want breakfast,” said Pam. “And we always have coffee on.”
For more information, visit www.oldmillwoodsbandb.com or call (570) 596-4826.
Almost everything you will see in Old Mill Woods B & B has a story behind it.
“We have a butter churn that belonged to Beulah Thompson who churned butter in it when she was a child,” said Mark.
There’s a claw foot bathtub turned into a table that came from Pam’s sister’s house in Meriden,
A full size loom that belonged to Pam’s mom is in the loft area.
A 16-foot oak banquet table with six leaves is set up for group family meals. This table has been in Pam’s family since at least the 1930’s and has a very interesting history. At one time it belonged to the William Thaw family of Pittsburgh. Pam’s
grandparents were domestic servants to the Thaw family. They had cared for William’s wife, Mary in France before she passed away. When they came back to the United States in the 1930’s, they cared for William’s son, Benjamin. Benjamin’s brother was the famous Harry Thaw whom shot and killed Stanford White in a New York City restaurant in a jealous rage. He was the first person accused of murder who successfully pleaded not guilty by reason of temporary insanity.
The table actually dates back to the Civil War, where Northern generals in New York City sat around it.
“In that time, often wealthy families would invite officers to their homes for dinner as a thank you for their service,” explained Pam. “That 16-foot table does make for interesting dinner conversation, whether it’s because of it’s appearance or it’s history!”
Yes, it seems that everything at Old Mill Woods B & B has a story. Even how it got its name is quite a story. But we will let Mark and Pam tell you about that themselves!