Press & News
YORKBURG MANOR BED & BREAKFAST – Press & News
The following is the text from an article about Yorkburg Manor.
Yorkburg Manor: It’s like going home to a place in the country
Deborah Brantner – Muskegon Chronicle Special Writer
Driving along the US 31 shoreline through Traverse City recently, I tried to recall where I stayed the last time I was up north. I couldn’t remember.
Minutes later I turned the corner in the Yorkburg Manor Bed and Breakfast where I had an experience not soon to be forgotten. Out in the country in Williamsburg, just minutes from the downtown Traverse City Bay area, is the newly renovated farmhouse built in 1896.
This white, three-story Victorian home is in a country setting surrounded by perennial and vegetable gardens, birdbaths and feeders and vast fields under blue skies. What a sight. It was just like coming home.
Staying at the Yorkburg Manor Bed and Breakfast is as comfortable and exciting as visiting old friends; like feeling at home though on vacation; as cozy as waking up as a child at your grandmother’s house. I called ahead and begged my way in as they were closed that Saturday to attend their son’s wedding. On the phone, Judy York said, “We won’t be home, but we’ll leave the front door open for you. There’s food in the refrigerator; help yourself. Your room’s at the top of the stairs. If we don’t see you tonight, we’ll catch you in the morning. Make yourself at home.”
Now that’s my kind of place!
Owners John and Judy York bought the house in 2002 for $500! It was vacant, boarded up and in terrible disrepair. Their goal was to renovate it to the condition enjoyed by its original owners Nicholas and Louisa Kneiper and their five children.
The Yorks worked long and hard to make and match the original woodwork, to redo the hardwood floors and to completely renovate and decorate the home to fit the style of the era. It was built in 1896 during a time when neighbors gathered to help each other with barn raisings, quilting, thrashing and corn and shedding bees. Winter gatherings were just for fun. A story is told that the neighbor who lived farthest away from the host would pick up the rest of the neighbors on a horse-drawn sleigh. Nicholas Kneiper liked to snap the reins of the horses so they would jump, throwing riders from the sleigh into the snow.
This was a dairy farm where they raised oats, corn and hay to feed the cows and pigs, and potatoes for a cash crop. Chickens and ducks poked about the farmyard where children made up games to play.
The house was built when men walked behind horse-pulled plows, when collies brough cows home from the field to be milked by hand. It was a time when ice had to be cut in blocks from East Grand Traverse Bay during the winter and packed away between sawdust layers in an icebox in the basement.
Casino is less that two miles away; public accesss for boaters is within minutes. Nearby Sand Lakes Quiet Area, a 3,000-acre nature preserve, features 10 miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking or cross-country skiing and five lakes for water activities.
The most expensive room during peak season is $135. During off-season months, November through April, priced drop to $95 at most. On North Broomhead Road right off M-72, Yorkburg Manor is advertised as “tranquility in the heart of Northern Michigan.”
Coming in late at night the house glowing with candles in the windows; the hallway lights welcomed us. Except for the private living quarters belonging to the owners, the house is completely open to guests.
I tried out the comfy couch in the parlor and scanned the immaculate room with bright, cozy furniture, fresh flowers and plants, family pictures of the original owners and nicely placed antiques. I made my way through the expansive formal dining room to raid the refrigerator. Having found an after-midnight snack, I checked out the breakfast nook with a circle of stuffed chairs, books and more lovely antiques adorning the fireplace. Then I ran up the old front stairway to my bedroom suite.
There are four bedrooms in the public area. Each is decorated with different styles of antique beds and dressers and with reminders of days gone by. I peeked in the Isabelle Room with oriental carpets over hardwood floors, a chenille bedspread and antique rocking horse carrying an old doll.
The Wilhelmina Room was in pastels with lace curtains, teddy bears and a hand-sewn quilt. The Garden Room has its own sitting room with antique wicker and an old rocker. It’s a lovely and spacious room and leads to the back stairway, which goes to the top floor.
The third floor Billiards Room can be used for parties, and can sleep children in the wide window seats that surround the pool table. Bedrolls are left for that purpose. There are books and games. But remember, TV didn’t exist in 1896.
My bedroom was the Roger/Dennis Room. I was thrilled with the corner fireplace, scented candles, lace-draped tables and, as everywhere, touches of home. In this country retreat there was no noise. I climbed into the raised antique bed and cuddled under the soft sheets and quilted blanket for a comfortable night’s sleep.
The owners were in the kitchen at breakfast time. Available beverages were water, coffee or tea, juices, pop and milk. Muffins, rolls and bagels were in cloth-lined baskets on a side table. Yes, there’s butter and cream cheese in the old-fashioned refrigerator. There were piles of fresh fruit everywhere and a huge plate of sliced watermelon on the table. It’s “help yourself,” as the Yorks feel guests are happiest left to fix whatever they would like in their own familiar way.
Judy joined me in the kitchen and pointed out the hummingbirds at the feeder outside the window. John had his coffee in the sunny breakfast room. Guests may eat at the kitchen table, in the breakfast room, or in the lovely formal dining room. Soon Judy was off to wander her garden, filling a paper bag with tomatoes and cucumbers for me to take. She offered to put in bottled water, fruit or vegetable juice, pop and whatever I’d like from the snack box – fruit bars, nuts and candy.
After breakfast, while Judy did the dishes, I drifted outside to marvel over the expansive and exquisite flower beds and vegetable gardens, each different and filled with flowers just like I have in my garden back home – black-eyed susans, pink coneflowers, lavender Russian sage, daisies, sunflowers, snapdragons and an occasional antique garden tool or huge gourd stuck in for whimsy.
Yorkburg Manor Bed and Breakfast near Traverse City is more than a place to stay. It’s a haven of peace, alive with history, rich with nostalgia; a home away from home that makes visitors yearn to return.