Jill and Peter Dole always planned to move to the East Coast – Bar Harbor, Maine, perhaps – and buy an inn to run. They would make the move when he finally retired from his career at a central Ohio tool and fastener company.
“That’s always been something we wanted to do,” Jill Dole said last week.
Running a guesthouse is just what the couple has been doing since the start of the year, only they never set foot out the front door of their home on Olentangy River Road.
And what a home it is.
The Doles call their bed-and-breakfast Timbrook Guesthouse, though they acknowledge it’s known to most people as the Old Jack Antrim Farmhouse. The southern colonial mansion was built in 1875 on what was originally an 83-acre property that encompassed all of the Indian Hills subdivision.
The property was the home of the Antrim family, which donated much of the nearly 120 acres that make up Antrim Park, from 1921 until 1945, when Jack Antrim sold the house and 15 acres to the Timmons family, the website for the guesthouse states.
The Timmons family, along with their horses, remained there for more than 40 years and named it Timbrook after the family name and Kempton Run, which flows through the southern end of the estate.
The Dole family took ownership of the home and remaining four acres in 1988.
It was during the recent recession that Peter and Jill Dole began to consider going into the B&B business in their own house, after friends and family in need of someplace to stay turned to them because of how much room they had. The property also features a carriage house, which the Doles rented to a long-term guest.
“It became clear that there was a need for this kind of thing in this end of town,” Jill Dole said.
Under city of Columbus regulations, the couple could have operated a two-guest bed-and-breakfast without obtaining any permits, but they decided instead to convert part of the 4,851-square-foot dwelling into as many as five guest rooms.
“I guess I was bored one day and I said I’m going to call an attorney and let’s get this rolling,” Jill Dole said.
It helped, she added, that only one of the couple’s combined six children was still at home, and that daughter –Whitney Thompson – will be going off to college soon.
Thompson has been managing the property, handling bookings and other aspects of the business.
The couple, represented by David L. Hodge of Smith and Hale, appeared before the Northwest Civic Association last November and received permission for the required variances to start their inn.
“The house is big enough that we only had to add a couple of French doors to keep our area private versus what we have opened up for the guests,” Jill Dole said. “We’re really, really enjoying it. This is such a beautiful piece of property. We always call it our little hidden gem. It’s fun seeing the property through everyone else’s eyes when they see it for the first time.
“We don’t want to have to leave. This is home. It’s us. We had to make sense to stay, being just the two of us and maintaining it the way we wanted to maintain it. We really wanted to share this with everybody.”
Timbrook Guesthouse has an ellipse-shaped swimming pool, a greenhouse filled with tropical trees and orchids, a large vegetable garden, several perennial gardens and an aviary with five parrots.
Room rates range from $129 to $159 per night, with higher prices during special events and holidays.
When they opened, Jill Dole said the couple anticipated most of their guests would be businesspeople, doctors or visiting professors at Ohio State University.
“We’ve gotten a handful of them,” she said, “but we’ve gotten a lot of people coming into town just for vacation. We’ve had people as far as Europe and Canada finding us so far.”
The Doles are planning an open house to introduce potential customers to Timbrook and to thank their renovation contractors.
“This is home, so we decided to just run our inn right here,” Jill Dole said.