The Hermitage Bed and Breakfast is located in Brookville, Indiana, next to Whitewater River. There are six rooms that are available for guests to reserve, all found on the building’s second floor. People who visit the bed and breakfast are free to explore the entirety of the house and are encouraged to by Martha, the owner of the business. Breakfast is served at times that the patrons chose and is made to order by Martha. The house served as an “art colony” for artists in the early 1900s, and as such, there are a few different original paintings done by those artists of the surrounding area on the walls of the property. Martha enjoys being able to share the house with her patrons, saying that “it’s a big old house that needs to be shared. And I’m willing to share.”
Situated in a wooded area of the town of Brookville, Indiana, is The Hermitage Bed and Breakfast. The two-story craftsman-style building is on almost seven acres of land. Guests are free to roam the grounds of the property; however, Martha, the owner of the inn, says that people could potentially find more to do at the town park that is right next to the property. On the outside of the house, there is a 112-foot-long veranda with tables and chairs that patrons can sit in, as well as a gazebo located off the kitchen area connected to the house by a pergola.
Inside the bed and breakfast, there are a total of six rooms that guests can rent. Each room has access to the inn’s wireless internet, and all of the rooms are located on the second floor of the building. As such, the inn is not ADA accessible. There are three bathrooms that are shared by all visitors staying in the house. Those who stay at the property have access to any area in the house they wish to go. Some of these rooms include the inn’s library, sitting room with a fireplace, kitchen, and dining hall. The home was once a home for artists, consequently, much of the artwork in the building was done by painters who lived there such as the Hoosier Group and Indiana Plein as well as more recent local artists.
Breakfast is served each morning at the bed and breakfast; however, there is no set time for when it is served. Martha says that she is flexible with regards to when breakfast is done and what dishes are prepared. “I’ll serve anything within reason,” she says. Some of the breakfast options that can be offered include pancakes, waffles, eggs, bacon, and blueberry muffins. Additionally, accommodations can be made for those with dietary restrictions if they are brought to Martha’s attention. Patrons are free to eat breakfast wherever they wish throughout the house, including the dining hall, veranda, and kitchen.
The inn sits just outside Brookville and is within walking distance of the town’s main street. The Whitewater River runs near the building, which is runoff from Brookeville Lake to the north of town. Guests can go to the lake to participate in various water activities or to go hiking in the area around it at locations such as Mounds State Recreation Area. For those searching for a restaurant to try, Martha recommends that they visit Ainsley’s Café towards the north end of the lake, which is situated near a marina where people can dine from a varied menu while observing the lake.
One of Martha’s desires for those who stay at the Hermitage Bed and Breakfast is that they will enjoy staying in "this old house." She says that “it’s a big old house that needs to be shared. And I’m willing to share.” That is one of the reasons why she allows guests to explore the building at their leisure. The large nature of the building also lends itself to hosting events. Some of the events that have been hosted on the property in the past are dinner parties, small wedding receptions, family and class reunions, baby showers, and group luncheons. Patrons can also host small yard weddings on the grounds of the bed and breakfast.
Many of the people who stay at the inn are typically staying there intending to attend an event in the area. One of the most notable events is a “painters paint-out” weekend that is hosted throughout southern Indiana once a year. According to Martha, a number of painters stay there around that time due to the history of the house as a home for artists. When the paint-out is going on, Martha may allow these painters to paint in one of the studios in the house should they wish to do so. There are also a number of other events that take place throughout the year in the region that many patrons attend. Often the busiest time of the year for the business is between March and December when a number of people visit for events.
There are a few important policies that guests are asked to follow while staying at the Hermitage Bed and Breakfast. One of the most important is that no pets are allowed to stay with patrons. Martha also makes a special note that the rooms are not ADA accessible due to each guest room being on the second floor. Another rule that Martha keeps is that she strives to make herself available to visitors when they are at the house. Said one previous guest, “She makes you feel like family or old friends. We sat up past midnight talking and laughing with Martha, listening to her wisdom and fascinating stories.” This is one of Martha’s favorite aspects of her job, as she enjoys getting to host people and share the history of the home.
The Hermitage Bed and Breakfast has been in business since 1998, when Martha, the current owner, opened it to the public. Before that, the building functioned as a private residence. It was originally built in 1835 for James Spear and his family. They had moved to the area to build a paper mill along the nearby Whitewater River. The mill is no longer on the riverbanks; however, original paintings in the house depict what the scene might have resembled during that time. These paintings were done by painters who lived in the house after the Spear family sold the property to two artists, Steele and Adams. After they bought the house in 1898, the two artists made additions such as art studios on both sides of the structure and a front porch veranda that faces the river. Because of their love of art, the house became a kind of “art colony,” as Martha describes it, where artists would come to paint.
Martha bought the property in 1978. She had grown up in the town of Brookville and decided to move back to raise her family there. The house served as her family’s home for 20 years before she decided to start running the house as a bed and breakfast. Since opening, she has made mostly cosmetic changes to the interior, such as changing the wallpaper and paint in some of the rooms. With the changes she has made, however, Martha says that she tries “to keep everything as old-fashioned as I can,” as the building is a part of the National Register of Historic Places.