Tudor style: Family turns Avella farmhouse into an award winner

Observer Reporter | October 11, 1999

As reported by Judy Chestnut, in the Observer Reporter  October 11, 1999:

“AVELLA – When Marcy and Dale Tudor began to restore their 1870s farmhouse, they were meticulous about making their new home ‘old’ again.

The family who lived in the house before them had wall-to-wall carpeting and wallpaper in most of the rooms. That decorating style wouldn’t have existed in 1870, so the Tudors went to work.

Marcy spent six days on her hands and knees stripping the paint off the living room hardwood floor. But also during the ongoing restoration, she and her husband installed insulation, window caulking, high-efficiency heat pumps and water measures to the century-old house they were turning into a bed and breakfast.

Their efforts earned the Tudors’ Weatherbury Farm an Environmental Protection Agency Energy Star Small Business Award this year.

Even though ‘environmentally friendly’ wasn’t a catch phrase in 1870, Marcy explained that families conserved out of necessity.

‘Back then they were environmentally conscious because they reused things,’ she said. ‘They would only heat only one room, the room they were in. It was called cheap or thrifty.’

The Tudors conserve mainly because its economical, said Marcy, who is also a self-employed accountant.

In each of the guest’s bathrooms, there are framed signs asking visitors to use their washcloths and towels more than once before having them laundered.

The ‘Save the Planet’ signs sit close to claw-foot bathtubs, pull-chain toilets and pedestal sinks.

Visitors at the Avella bed-and- breakfast get more than they would at most B&Bs across the country, Dale said. Their bed-and- breakfast is modeled after European B&Bs, which typically involve guests more than at their American counterparts.

The Tudors decided they wanted a B&B of their own while they visited European pensiones and guest houses in the 1980s. Dale, a business analyst for Bayer, was on assignment in Germany at that time and was fortunate enough to receive the customary six weeks of vacation.

‘We came back (to the United States) and thought we would find an old house on 10 acres to turn into a bed-and-breakfast,’ Marcy said. ‘There were no old houses on 10 acres, so we bought this house on 100 acres.’

Marcy named the farm after Thomas Hardy’s novel, ‘Far From the Madding Crowd,’ because they thought city residents would book rooms there to escape the rush.

‘It’s hard for people anymore to get exposed to a farm,’ Marcy said.

In addition to being a bed and breakfast, Weatherbury is a farm vacation destination, so visitors are encouraged to get involved in the farm activities each day. It is one of only 25 farm vacations across the state, she said.

Dale, Marcy and their 18-year-old son, Nigel, raise Hereford cattle, Scottish Highland cattle, Southdown sheep and bantam chickens. They also grow hay.

While some of their clientele comes from Pittsburgh, the Tudors have had visitors this year from Israel, Australia, England, Canadian provinces and from across the country.

Each of the guest rooms are named after former residents of the house, Marcy said. For example, Mother’s Sewing Room is named after Phoebe Murdock, who loved to sew in the summer kitchen. The room has a king-size antique bed, a wooden daybed, an old-fashioned Singer sewing machine and an antique rocking chair.

The Tudors are hoping to have a homecoming for all former residents who lived in the house, Marcy said.

‘We’re lucky because many of the former residents who lived in our home still live in the area,’ she said.”