Harpers Ferry’s Stonehouse Bed & Breakfast gives guests the best of both worlds with an updated, “doily free” old hotel and a hot meal every morning made from grandma’s recipes.
When Chris Corder decided to open Stonehouse Bed & Breakfast in historic Harpers Ferry, he asked his grandmother— a native of Valley Bend in Randolph County —for some recipes so he could fulll the “breakfast” portion of his establishment’s name. Now guests like Jessica Tuel, who stays there during an annual trip, enjoy Chris’s extra uffy blueberry griddle cakes. “He makes amazing pancakes and fruit,” says Tuel, who lives in Denton, Maryland. “It’s always like something you see in a restaurant.”
That’s just one of the ways Chris and his wife, Liesel, go above and beyond at Stonehouse. Another is to declare the bed and breakfast a “doily free environment.” “Chris came up with the ‘doily-free’ thing, and I think it was because he believes most people think of B&Bs as being a bit oldfashioned and maybe cluttered,” Liesel says. Not at Stonehouse. The Corders have worked to streamline and update their circa 1830s home, which they have renovated and expanded while retaining the structure’s historic feel.
Chris has lived at the home for 11 years and opened Stonehouse B&B in 2009, before he met Liesel in 2013. They married in spring 2016. A former photojournalist in Virginia, Chris feared his job was in jeopardy during the recession, so he decided to open a B&B to transition into a new line of work. Luckily he has carpentry skills, which have come in handy as he works on the home, recently expanding from three guest rooms to four. “When I bought it, it was messed up, so I had to work on it,” he says. “We slowly opened up in 2009.” He recently built an addition that turned an existing bedroom into a suite, with a Jack-and-Jill bathroom that can be shared by family members or visitors traveling together.
Like Tuel, Tom Ellis is a repeat customer, staying at Stonehouse B&B once a year when he attends the Waterford Festival in Loudoun County, Virginia, each October. “The location is phenomenal,” he says. “It’s right there in lower Harpers Ferry.” Stonehouse is within walking distance of many of the area’s historic sites. There’s the federal armory raided by John Brown in 1859, as well as the rock overlooking the conuence of the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers where Thomas Jefferson once declared, “This scene is worth a voyage across the Atlantic.”
Other nearby attractions include the portion of the Appalachian Trail that crosses West Virginia— Stonehouse gets occasional visits from day hikers—as well as a segment of the C&O Canal and the towpath that is popular with bicyclists. The rivers also provide recreational opportunities. “We’ve rented kayaks and gone tubing,” Tuel says. She and her husband, Jason, also have taken tours of wineries in the area. Both Tuel and Ellis compliment the Corders’ style of hosting. “Everything is so relaxed,” Tuel says. “Sometimes when you go to a B&B, you feel like you are in somebody else’s house. They provide such a welcoming atmosphere.” Says Ellis, “We love Chris and Liesel. They are kind, welcoming folks.”
Stonehouse B&B keeps pretty busy spring through fall and does a decent business even during the winter months. One holiday draw is the longstanding early-December Harpers Ferry Olde Tyme Christmas. The Corders are there to help—or stay out of guests’ way when they already have a full itinerary. “Some people come up and have no idea what they are going to do, and we give them some ideas,” Chris says. “Some have everything planned out and we let them do their thing. We’re hands off.”
WRITTNE BY MARY WADE BURNSIDE