“The house was built in 1920. No restoration work had ever been done but it had wonderful bones to work with. I was inspired to keep it period specific and tried to maintain the integrity throughout. I kept the first floor original light fixtures and hardwood floors. People walk in and they step back in time.”
“In 2011, while I was living in Los Angeles, I coincidently came home for a wedding on the same weekend that an estate sale was happening at my favorite house in town. During my childhood the home was always owned by George and Mary K Smith. My mom and I always enjoyed going to antique auctions together and decided we should go. We bought a few items, but it wasn’t until we were paying for the items that I realized they were taking bids on the house. I always knew I wanted to own property back in my hometown, so I put in a blind bid. A few weeks passed and I had kind of forgotten about it when I received a phone call letting me know I was the highest bidder. I jumped at the opportunity to purchase the house although I had no idea what I was going to do with it living 3,000 miles away.
“Smith House Inn became a huge passion project for me. Evolving from simply wanting to have a place back home to share with friends, into fulfilling a dream of owning a boutique Bed and Breakfast like the one my Aunt Barb owned during my childhood. I realized the demand for lodging in Confluence that would be attractive to the clientele that pulls from Pittsburgh and Washington D.C. After two and a half years of construction and planning I opened in 2015.
“The house was built in 1920. No restoration work had ever been done but it had wonderful bones to work with. I was inspired to keep it period specific and tried to maintain the integrity throughout. I kept the first floor original light fixtures and hardwood floors, but it still needed updated. We replaced all of the plumbing and the knob and tube electrical but kept the push button switches. The attic was infested with bats. After an extensive and humane extraction, we transformed the second floor into three guestrooms. I loved working on the design and picking out the fixtures. I did everything as thoughtfully as possible, but it was quite a process. I had fun going to flea markets, antique stores, and estate sales, with a lot of pieces purchased in Confluence. A lot of it is tied to the community. Mary K always wore straw hats, so in the powder room I have a few of them hanging on the wall. I have another local woman’s purse collection and pieces from both of my grandmothers and my great aunt. People walk in and they step back in time.
“My mom owns Mitch’s Fuel & Food in Confluence. We’ve owned the gas station since I was two years old. We lost my dad in 2010 and then a few of years ago the gas station caught on fire and burnt to the ground. We rebuilt it, dropped the automotive repair business, focused on food, and named it after my dad because everyone always called it Mitch’s anyway. There’s a lot of sentimental value attached to that. For me, that project was a way to pay homage to my father.”
This content was created by Anita Harnish for the Great Allegheny Passage Conservancy and funded in part by a grant from the Community Conservation Partnerships Program Environmental Stewardship Fund, under the administration of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of Recreation and Conservation administered through the Pennsylvania Environmental Council’s Laurel Highlands Mini Grant Program, and in part by the Somerset County Tourism Grant Program.