Owens masterpiece, now available for sleepovers
- Published: May 12, 2011
Erik and Deirdre Owen had looked for ways to support the local arts community as well as share their home, an Italian villa on an historic estate. By turning their spacious home into an “art bed and breakfast,” they believe they now have accomplished both.
“It’s what our house was always meant to be,” Erik Owen said in a recent interview.
Now open to reservations from overnight visitors as well as to rent for parties and weddings, the Glen House Bed and Breakfast just south of Yellow Springs offers a uniquely cultured lodging experience for art lovers and a more intimate way for local artists to showcase and sell their work.
The villa’s four suites cost from $130 to $150 per night for two, including breakfast, while paintings, sculptures and photographs adorn the walls and halls in what Owen hopes will be permanent and revolving collections of artwork.
Nestled in the woods at 1221 Glen Road off Grinnell Road, each of the house’s rooms has a fireplace and private bath while the basement suite caters to families, Owen said.
The Owens were inspired by European museum architecture and Palladian symmetry in designing their 4,800-square-foot dream home, which the couple sketched in 1984 on a napkin in Vienna while still in their 20s and finally built in 2005. With large, gallery-like spaces and 12-foot ceilings, it’s perfect for exhibiting large pieces and hosting parties, Owen said. It’s also ideally located outside of Yellow Springs.
“Yellow Springs is a good place because it already has a caché and people expect art and eccentricity,” Deirdre Owen said, and the Glen House has both.
“We wanted to create something that’s bigger and more vibrant than existing spaces [in town],” in order to support local artists, Erik Owen added.
Also on the four-acre estate are a pool and a remodeled barn dating from the 1700s, where about 30 ex-slaves known as the Conway Colony may have lived in the mid-1800s, according to Owen. To honor them, an exhibit of African sculpture art featuring masks and headpieces will be installed in the barn and open to the public.
Donna McGovern, who has operated Grinnell Mill Bed and Breakfast since 2007, will soon take over as innkeeper at the Glen House. McGovern recently received an eviction notice from the Miami Township Trustees, who own the Grinnell Mill, in a dispute over who should pay the property tax.
For breakfast, McGovern will prepare for visitors the homemade granola she made famous at the Grinnell Mill while the Glen House’s signature dish is a breakfast sandwich with egg, bacon, arugula and Dijon mustard created by the Owen’s daughter Oona.
To the Owens, their home is also made to host major events like weddings.
“I don’t know if we knew when we built it, but this is the perfect gathering place,” Deirdre Owen said. This weekend the Glen House will host its first wedding party.
At the same time, it’s a quiet and serene respite adjacent to the 1,000-acre Glen Helen Nature Reserve, Deirdre added.
Individual bookings have also begun and most patrons have been young, artistic types, Erik Owen said.
The idea to turn their home into a bed and breakfast came to Erik Owen at 3 a.m. one morning after considering alternative ways to help pay the mortgage. He was inspired by the growing trend of art museum lodging and an art salon he and Deirdre organized at their home last year.
“The salon idea was the first attempt to enhance and support and nurture the arts,” Owen said. Ideally there would be a revolving show in the home’s main hallway in addition to a permanent collection in the various rooms and outdoor sculptures, he said. All pieces would be for sale. Owen also envisions art workshops and live-in artists.
Local artist Michael Casselli, who built an electric sculpture for last year’s salon, is working with Louisa Bieri to explore how the arts community can best connect with the Glen House.
Erik Owen previously ran a commercial photography studio in Cincinnati and more recently he and his wife turned to local residential construction — building and remodeling four homes in Yellow Springs under the company name BauWow. Both grew up in Yellow Springs.
But the Glen House, which also has geothermal heat, natural air cooled by an underground spring and spring-fed drinking water, is their masterpiece.
“It’s more of a retreat or a resort,” Owen said. “People can get a massage while they’re here, eat an organic breakfast … and be surrounded by art.”
Visit http://www.glenhouseinn.com or call 937-767-7899 for more information.