by Erica Eades
With its breathtaking river views, immaculately groomed lawns, and a chic, heritage charm reminiscent of popular British period drama, Downton Abbey, it’s no wonder guests have been flocking to Almonte’s Pinehurst Manor since it opened as a B&B last April.
But Patrick Ashby, longtime Almonte resident and owner of the Carss Street venue, believes there’s one detail potential guests tend to overlook: Aside from being an enchanting step back in time, Pinehurst is also an escape – a retreat, if you will – from the congested chaos of city life.
“You can come here for total relaxation,” says Patrick, adding that their grounds – complete with not one, but two private waterfalls – are ideal for meditative practices such as yoga. (They also offer massage therapy services, canoeing and kayaking along the Mississippi River, and cozy waterfront fire pits.)
Built in 1890, Pinehurst Manor was once the home of Bennett Rosamond, president and managing director of the Rosamond Woollen Mill. At the time of construction, the Almonte Gazette reported the mansion was to be “the handsomest house and prettiest location in town.” The result was a grand estate set on seven acres of land, which featured eight bedrooms, seven bathrooms, 10 fireplaces, and a series of equally impressive outbuildings.
Today, Patrick manages the property with his wife, Dee. The two purchased the home three years ago with the royalties from their home-based nutritional supplement company –an operation they continue to run from the Manor.
But though the Ashby family is relatively new to the space, Patrick’s history with the home goes way back: “I used to cut the grass at Pinehurst when I was a teenager,” says Patrick, who grew up just a few blocks away at the corner of Mitcheson and Brookdale. “I heard it was up for sale on a Wednesday; by Friday I had put in an offer.”
The Ashby’s have been hard at work since moving into Pinehurst: They installed a new boiler, updated the insulation, and added a beautiful marble en suite to one of the guest bedrooms. They also spruced up the landscaping and are currently in the process of restoring the old windows and trim.
But still, the couple has remained true to the home’s rich history by holding on to almost all of its original features – stained glass windows, wood panelling, etc. – and filling the rooms with antiques whenever possible.
As they enter into their second year as B&B owners, Patrick and Dee are beginning to look at ways to expand their business. They’ve already begun hosting weddings (and, thanks to word-of-mouth, have booked four more for later this year), and a few Kanata-based companies have held executive management functions on the grounds.
For now, though, the couple is quite content with the way things have been going.
“[Business] has been very good,” says Patrick. “We’ve had many repeat visitors, lots of referrals. People come here, experience it, and then they go back and share with their friends.”
Pinehurst Manor is located at 39 Carss St. in Almonte. For more information, please visit www.pinehurstmanor.ca, or call Patrick and Dee at (613) 461-0117.
Photos courtesy of Patrick and Dee Ashby