" AVELLA - When Dale and
Marcy Tudor lived in Germany in the early 1980s, the exchange rate for dollars to marks
was at one of its all-time lows. So when they traveled around Europe on their vacations,
the Tudors stayed at guest houses to save money.
'We loved the experience,' Mrs. Tudor said. 'We
enjoyed the opportunity so much that we decided a bed and breakfast would be in our
After Tudor's liaison assignment with Bayer AG
in Leverkusen, Germany, ended, the Tudors returned to the states and moved to the North
Hills of Pittsburgh,
But they weren't content. They really wanted to
open a bed and breakfast, so they started to look for property. They found what they
considered to be the perfect place to open a bed and breakfast -- a farm on Sugar Run Road
'We were looking for an old house and 10 acres,'
Mrs. Tudor said. 'We found an old house and 104 acres.'
They moved into the old 14-room farmhouse 10
years ago. They spent the next six years - and, Mrs. Tudor said, they're still not done -
restoring the circa 1870 house to its original architectural design. Four years ago, they
opened Weatherbury Farm to the public. They selected the name from the setting of Thomas
Hardy's novel, 'Far From the Madding Crowd.'
'It's been a big change in lifestyle,' Mrs.
Tudor said. We chose the name to emphasize that the farm, while only 20 miles from the
hustle and bustle of Pittsburgh, is a place apart, where life passes at a different pace -
slower, somehow richer.'
Plus, Extravagance, which was the original name
of the farm, did not suit the atmosphere the Tudors were trying to achieve at their bed
The house was structurally sound when the Tudors
purchased it in 1986. although it had been updated over the years, most of the original
architectural features remained intact.
'The house was beautiful and clean, and it had
been updated. There was a lot of '60s wallpaper,' Mrs. Tudor said.
The Tudors wanted to make the house more
historically correct, so they removed the wallpaper and ripped up the wall-to-wall carpet.
Instead of removing any plaster, they patched walls and ceilings with spackling. Ceiling
tile was removed and replaced with drywall, and a suspended ceiling in the master bedroom
was removed and the ceiling beneath it parched. The original windows were retained and
'We had no idea how much work an old house
entails,' Mrs. Tudor said.
Restoring the original wood floors also was a
'My in-laws couldn't understand why we taking
out wall-to-wall carpet when they were putting it in,' Mrs. Tudor said.
The floors were originally varnished, and many
had been painted a number of times, sometimes even over the unvarnished parts. Mrs. Tudor
dismissed the idea of stripping all of the floors after spending eight hours a day for six
weeks stripping just the living room floor.
'After that, I started to paint,' she said,
noting that painted floors wee typical in houses built in the late 1800s.
The only interior architectural change they made
was the addition of two guest bathrooms to accommodate their guests. Space for the
bathrooms was taken from a bedroom closet and a hall linen closet.
The furnishings, color schemes and other
personal touches make the house very warm, comfortable and inviting. Most of the furniture
was discovered on the property -- in the basement, summer kitchen and garage -- and at
antique flea markets and auctions. Several items the Tudors picked up during their travels
abroad and in the United States are displayed through the house. Mrs. Tudor also did quite
a bit of stenciling around the walls and above the baseboards to enhance each room's
The living room, like all of the rooms, contains
several period items and has a real country feel. Dried herbs hang from a rack in one
corner, an old Smith-Corona typewriter and feather pens are situated on an old desk in
another corner and a large basket of yarn with wooden needles sits in another. Sheep and
Amish figures comprise the pieces of a wooden chess set displayed on an end table.
The living room also offers a full view of the
dining room, which features white walls and country blue woodwork. An old hutch, a dry
sink, an old work bench and a weaving loom are among the room's furnishings. A built-in,
pass-through cupboard is in one corner of the room.
The music room, decorated in pink,mauve and
green,m is across the foyer from the living room. A silk area rug from 'Thailand in the
center of the room 'changes' colors from different angles.
'If you look at it one way, it's dark. If you
look at from the other way,it's light, Mrs. Tudor said.
The second floor is spacious, and pictures and
prints from the Tudors' extensive travels hang from the walls in the hallway. Among them
are the Old State House in Boston, The Eiffel Tower in Paris, Old Main at Penn State
University and a scene from Hong Kong.
Each of the two guest bedrooms has its own
personality. The Patterson room, named after the second family to own the home (1945-1966)
is very bold. it is decorated in burgundy, blue and whit4. The floor and the woodwork are
painted blue, and the blue stenciled houses and burgundy checks around the middle of the
wall resemble the design on the comforters on both the double bed and the day bed. The
room also has two large closets.
Jane's room, named for a member of the farm's
founding Murdock family, is decorated in lighter tones. Here, too, the stenciling matches
the bed and window dressings. A beautiful old clothes cupboard was acquired for $15 at an
The hallway wall between Jane's room and a guest
bathroom is dedicated to the Tudor family history through photographs and an explanation
of the family name.
The second floor also contains an office, the
master bedroom, another bedroom for the Tudor's son, Nigel and three bathrooms.
A stairway off the back office leads to the
kitchen, which had been updated by previous owners who replaced the original windows with
short, stocky windows and installed modern cupboards that resembled those in the Tudors'
North Hills home. so the Tudors replaced the replacement windows with windows that are
similar in width to those in the rest of the house, although they are shorter to allow for
cabinets beneath them. They also installed cabinets built in 1905 that they found in a
house that was being demolished. Those cabinets are from the right era for the kitchen,
which was added to the house in 1910.
Many of the kitchen's furnishings either look
antique or are old. There's an oblong kitchen table the Tudors acquired from a parsonage
in Tennessee. There's an iron stove and a refrigerator, circa 1929. Kitchen utensils with
red handles hang from a rack above the sink area. A gum ball machine serves as a fish
The home's exterior and grounds are just as
enchanting as the interior, although Mrs. Tudor said the exterior restoration is an
ongoing project. The exterior clapboards on the house were retained because of their
character, stripped and painted. The Tudors also reconstructed the porch, using old
photographs and markings on the clapboards.
The standing seam metal roof is mostly original.
When the back 'L' need to be replace, the Tudors discovered it has not historically
correct -- batten construction was used, rather than standing seam construction. The
Tudors educated themselves on standing seam roofs, purchase 100-year-old-plus tools and
built it themselves.
Flowering shrubs embrace the house, and there a
re a woodland garden and a vegetable garden. An annual garden of cottage flowers line the
fence, and the Tudors are working on a fragrance garden and old rose garden.
In May, the Tudors received one of five 1995
Rural Sustainable Tourism Awards presented by the center for Rural Pennsylvania. The award
is designed to encourage environmentally sustainable tourism in rural areas and is
presented to organizations that actively promote and implement environmentally friendly
activities through recycling or other 'green' tourism practices.
Plans for the farm include converting the old
summer kitchen into two guest bedrooms' restoring the exterior of the farmhouse; enclosing
the back porch, which overlooks the herb garden; and erecting a 20 foot-by50-foot green
house, where Mrs. will cultivate old-fashioned flowers and Nigel will grow exotic plants.
The Tudors purchased the glass greenhouse, circa 1930 in 1993. They had it
dismantled before transporting it to the farm for storage.
In their' spare time," the Tudors raise
Hereford cattle, Scottish Highland cattle, which are distinguished by unique shaggy coast
of waved hair and elegant horns and are the oldest know breed of cattle, Southdowns
(sheep), bantam chickens, Guinea fowl, Indian runner ducks, African geese and doves. "