It all started with a couple of donkeys, or rather the sound of braying donkeys. In the twilight, sitting on their deck, neighbors Catherine Graham, Sharon Magee, Ellen East and her husband, David, would often joke about their evening symphony. In 2011, Graham and Magee moved to Hartwell to a quiet cove in Hartwell on the lake. David and Ellen found their way to the same cove when deciding to move back to Georgia. Ellen, an executive with Time Warner, was anticipating the next chapter of her life. Little did they know that those braying donkeys were telling these neighbors that the next chapter lay across the cove.
Graham became more and more curious and she and Magee set out to find the musical animals. They began taking rides along the roads across the cove until they found the Nesmith farm. The home of the braying donkeys. The farm was family property and was not for sale. So Graham and Magee returned home, content with the twilight symphony and occasional trips across the cove to visit the farm. And then…..
The farm went up for sale in the Fall of 2016 and for Graham, “the dream was born.” East quickly jumped aboard the crazy dream and the two set out to convince their more skeptical partners. It took a while, but the neighbors closed on the farm in the early spring of 2017. Sadly, the donkeys were not part of the sale but then….
A friend needed a home for her 3 donkeys and 2 goats and so, donkey braying once again echoed across the cove. Thecocktail hours became planning hours and slowly, Graham’s dreams became plans. The East’s daughter joined the partnership. The home of the singing donkeys was to be a farmhouse Bed and Breakfast on a 51 acre farm on the lake.
While official groundbreaking for the B&B did not take place until May of 2018, the partners began clearing the property. They worked to bring back the old garden and made a home for the donkeys and goats. Baby chicks arrived and a chicken B&B was raised to house the growing breakfast providers.
This summer, the B&B officially opened with a bang. A family took over the 5 room inn so that they could host a family reunion. The dream was a reality. Guests arrived, weddings were booked. Yoga sessions and standup paddle board yoga brought East’s other business, 4 Whole Health, onto the property.
The long-term vision for the B&B is to add more guest rooms. Currently the property can accommodate 16 guests. There is an 8 bay barn that needs to be incorporated in the dream. But for now, the group is just enjoying the fruits of their labor and the “dream” falling into place. The Farmhouse is brand new, but thanks to careful concern, it feels like it has been a part of the property all along. The old barn has been updated and includes a large room perfect for small group training or corporate retreats. There are two fully plumbed “outhouses” on the property so even larger events don’t need the dreaded porta-potties.
When asked about the biggest surprise for East or Graham, they both laughed and Graham said,”making beds is hard.” Then asked about the thing they are most proud of and they both agreed that “the dream is real,” and that meeting their guests and hearing their reactions to all the planning and hard work has made the reality a beautiful dream!
Recently, one of our guest contributors spent her anniversary at the Beacon. She does a great review as well as explaining the origins of the name, The Beacon Bed and Breakfast. For her blog, click here.
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