Queen Anne-style Victorian homes are the picture of elegance and epitomize the grandeur of the Victorian Era. They were built during the reign of Queen Victoria of Great Britain as a tribute to the English elegance of the homes built during the reign of Queen Anne. The architectural design quickly became one of the most popular choices of the emerging “well-to-do” classes in America. Many classic examples of this style sit regally within the Capital Region. While the Eastside Inn Victorian Bed & Breakfast at 460 Pawling Avenue in Troy is now a stunning example of this period’s architecture, that wasn’t always the case.
When Owners Beth Gray and Richard Hisert discovered the once-grand home of Dr. James MacChesney, a member of the prominent MacChesney family of Troy, it had been vacant and neglected for five years. The house was in pitiful shape, complete with battalions of squirrels, who’d taken up residence there, and carpenter ants, who’d waged war on the empty dwelling. Once a neighbor of the property on the east end of Troy, I remember walking by it and seeing how overgrown it was and thinking that it looked haunted (thankfully, it’s not). But when Beth walked into the property, she felt the pull of history and the marvel of excellent craftmanship. Both she and Richard could sense something in every nook and cranny of the home, envisioning how it could be made beautiful again.
It goes without saying that it required a lot of hard work to get this dream home back to its original splendor—and it’s no surprise that it was accomplished by such talented individuals. Richard is the founder and owner of H2H Geoscience Engineering in Downtown Troy, which he’s run for more than 25 years, while Beth is a health coach and nutritional consultant. During the house’s long journey back, Beth and Richard were able to draw on their personal strengths, as well as resourceful family members. Beth committed to learning how to source Victorian Era wallpapers, actually papering the substantial home herself. Yes, of course, there were nightmare scenarios, too. Still, neither of them dwelled on those facts for long, and instead pointed out that Richard’s father built the fantastic kitchen table next to the hearth, and Beth’s mom made many of the table accessories for the formal dining room. The owners stay positive, only seeing the present and the future they hope to bring to the newest chapter of the MacChesney home.
A Grand Place To Stay
With its three spacious and elegantly furnished Victorian bedrooms, as well as unique spaces throughout the house to enjoy, the Eastside Inn does not disappoint. Beth creates delicious home-cooked breakfasts each morning of your stay. Her focus on fresh ingredients—and whenever possible, those curated from her own garden—provides an excellent morning meal, the perfect way to start a day visiting the historic and trendy sites in Troy. You’ll find enchantment, as I did, and never want to leave those meticulously decorated rooms.
While strolling through the inn’s dwellings and gardens, you’ll see items that were originally owned by the MacChesney family, as well as other period antiques. Meticulous care is given to their placement within the rooms. Many articles were found in the attic, left to age in obscurity before the purchase of the home. A Cluett family trunk, belonging at one time to another one of the reigning 19th-century families of Troy, as well as a closet full of drapes and porcelain, are just a few examples of Beth and Richard’s discoveries.
The Capital Region’s Own Martha Stewart?
Christmas at the inn is a grand affair for Beth and Richard, with decorations that both complement and imitate the history of the home. A great, great-grandchild of Dr. MacChesney remarked one Christmas visit that Beth had chosen exactly what the original lady of the house decorated it with many years ago: dried hydrangeas from the garden. Stunned by the coincidence, Beth was determined to keep the tradition alive. The owners host an open house at the inn every December during Troy’s Victorian Stroll, offering locals the chance to visit it when it’s decked for the holidays.
Needless to say, the future is bright at the Eastside Inn Victorian Bed & Breakfast. It’s not only becoming a popular spot for guests who are visiting the Collar City to stay, but it’s also now serving the greater community as a venue for small meetings, intimate showers, luncheons and gatherings for ten people or less—its majestic parlors and lovely grounds and gardens making for a memorable setting. (Do note that it’s closed from February 5 through April 1, reopening just in time for the warmer weather.) And you could say that Beth is giving Martha Stewart a run for her money. She loves to cook; with her background in nutrition and through healthy cooking classes, she’s been sharing her uses for ingredients such as homegrown herbs. She’s also a master gardener, as is obvious by the inn’s oft-blooming grounds every spring and summer. And she’s a proven interior decorator, teaching decorating workshops. If you want in on classes, they’re coming up this spring and will include herb gardening, creating annual combination planters and even a workshop for children.
Lovely, grounded and energetic, Beth has so much to offer; she and Richard have found their spot in the Capital Region. And now it can be yours, too.