Story and photos by David Wright
When Susan Davis and Steve Thompson bought a house at 246 E. Main St. in Hillsboro, they weren’t quite sure what to do with it.
The couple mulled using it for housing funeral guests, since Thompson is the proprietor of Thompson Funeral Home directly across the street, or for a space to throw parties, or simply as miscellaneous lodging for people coming through town.
After weighing their options, they settled on something incorporating all three — The Hillsboro House.
While the business is best described as a bed and breakfast, Davis dubbed it a “B-and-no-B,” because she doesn’t cook — except to leave a plate of muffins in the kitchen for hungry early risers. However, several restaurants around town have agreed to provide catered buffet meals in the future, and Davis said uptown Hillsboro has plenty of dining options.
“You just let us know what you want, and we’ll make sure you get it,” she said.
While The Hillsboro House hasn’t officially opened yet, it has already been the venue for several events, including a political fundraiser, and a number of families have rented it while visiting. Events are starting to be booked.
“I think it’s going to be a real asset to the community, and to the families my funeral home serves,” he said, adding, “It’s just such a nice house. I think it turned out really nice. … We’re really excited with it.”
The home boasts a sprawling 2,900 square feet with three bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms. The two-story red-brick home was constructed in 1906, and while Davis and Thompson had to nearly gut the interior, it still maintains the small-town elegance of a bygone era. The ground floor is home to a greatroom flooded with natural light, a dining room with a table for eight, a study with the original fireplace, a modern kitchen and bathroom, and a rear entry with a wall of original brick.
Up a winding staircase flanked by the home’s original banister is a small study with a bookcase full of paperbacks and board games. Each of the three bedrooms — one with a queen bed, one with twin beds, and a master bedroom with a king-sized bed, walk-in closet and massive bathroom — are equipped with high-speed internet and TVs. Unlike more rural retreats found in the area, Davis said she wanted The Hillsboro House to cater to those who didn’t desire to unplug.
Each bed is fitted with high-thread-count Marriott sheets.
“That’s what we like when we go places,” she said.
The centerpiece of the master bedroom is an antique fireplace grate from Thompson’s family home in Locust Grove.
“We’ve just tried to make it so our house is your house,” Davis said.
Beyond the master bedroom is a huge closet — which Davis believes used to be the maid’s quarters — leading into the master bathroom. An accent tub sits across from a shower “so big you could throw a party in it,” Davis said.
According to Davis, the process of rehabbing the home has been one of trial and error. One of the happy mistakes resulted in what she calls “the butter room,” the first bedroom at the top of the stairs. Due to a shipping error, the manufacturer sent the room’s queen-size bed in the wrong color — a warm, golden cream — but when Davis opened the package, she fell in love with the buttery tone and decided to keep the bed.
Davis insisted that Thompson is “the picky one,” when it comes to design, but as she walked through the house, adjusting a sheet here or a candlestick there, she gestured at different empty spaces on the floor and the walls, wondering aloud what furniture piece might fit, or what painting might complement the decorations in the room.
“There’s a bench I have that just cries out to be put here,” or, “I want to put a chair right there,” or “I’d love to see some drapes in that window.”
Still, she said her husband is the one who picked out all the light fixtures and many of the decorations. Thompson agreed, saying, “I’m pretty picky. I want things done right.”
“When you’re doing something, you might as well do it the right way, and then you don’t have to worry,” he added.
Davis said she has two employees who do housekeeping at The Hillsboro House, but she often helps out just for the fun of it.
“I didn’t think at my age I’d get excited about maid work, but here I am, tugging sheets off beds,” she said.
Davis and Thompson keep busy with their day jobs — she as a lawyer and he as the funeral home director — and in whatever other spare time they might have, the couple breeds quarterhorses at their farm on the outskirts of town. Davis said she’s developed quite a following on Facebook with videos of her colts.
“We’re not retiring any time soon,” Davis said. “We work all the time, but we like what we do.”
And so do their customers.
An open house will be from 1-4 p.m. July 29 at 246 E. Main St., Hillsboro.
The Hillsboro House can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-763-2373. The “B-and-no-B” can be found on Facebook by searching “The Hillsboro House.”