It’s 7 a.m. at the Holten Heritage House Bed & Breakfast. Co-manager Kathleen Bailey, having already attended to the bed portion of the business, now leaves it to husband and co-manager Dean Leman to handle the latter.
He always serves a quality breakfast. Today it’s garden-fresh veggie-benny and sweet potatoes he glazed overnight. He makes sure to put fresh mint on the yogurt and granola. Their muppet dog Stella plops on the floor next to a Florida couple.
“That’s our greeter dog—not in every room,” says Dean. In addition to fixing a delicious breakfast, he also has a long fix-it list cut out for him. But he makes no particular rush of the day-to-day upgrades. “The place is a work in progress,” he says. “It took 121 years to look like this.”
OLD PLACE, NEW FACE
He spent all summer re-painting the mustard- and maroon-coloured exterior of the building formerly known as Mustang Bed & Breakfast. So, in addition to a new name and new managerial faces, the heritage house got a cosmetic makeover, too.
Dean and Kathleen decided to rename the bed-and-breakfast, first, as a nod to the fellow who built it, and secondly, since mustangs aren’t native to First Street.
“The fact is the house is a 121-year-old certified heritage building; I thought the name should reflect what’s inside,” says Dean, adding, “and I was taught in school alliteration is an attraction for the human ear.”
So please welcome the new … old … Holten Heritage House!
AIN’T SCARED OF NO GHOSTS
Dean doesn’t want to scare anyone off, he says, pointing out that he and Kathleen have been in the hospitality business before, and know what they’re doing.
But that’s not what typically scares people about the place. The B&B has been rumoured for years to be haunted.
“We haven’t felt those presences personally,” Dean says. “I think it’s a selling point for many people that there are rumours of haunted-ness to it. At the same time, no one should be afraid of coming and meeting Stella at the front door.”
He and Kathleen may not get whiffs of past spirits, but says that others do.
“The people who’ve said there’s something going on in the house have experienced it their whole lives. They’re somehow able to tap into it,” says Dean.
“We’re upfront. We can’t hide it. There’s a book and we’re chapter three.” Sure enough, in Strange Little Place, author Brennan Storr writes The Haunting of Holten House. There have been instances of paranormal activity in and around the house throughout the past 121 years. “For the majority of our guests, we don’t say anything until morning.”
“If we want our people coming, having a good night’s sleep — with the apparitions or not — then, after a cozy sleep, we will fill you in on all the dark details.”
“Scary is all a matter of perspective,” he says. For Kathleen, the scariest part is running the B&B— the deadlines and having everything just right for the guests —“but nothing has scared us so far.”
HOW ABOUT THE SCARE… I MEAN, STAIRCASE?
If Dean had to pick one creepy feature in the house, it would be the stairs. There are several accounts of people getting bad juju on them, feeling as if they’re going to be pushed.
“One thing that weirds people out (including me) is when the lights are off and it’s late at night and you’re walking on a solid, winding, wooden staircase that creaks. It gives you the willies.”
“I’m always holding on to the railing.”
PART OF ‘HOUSE’STORY
There are an awful lot of rumours going around about this place. The building oozes stories, and the couple are now part of its long and storied history. “We are ecstatic to be a part of this continued saga. It’s a pleasure and a privilege to live and work in Revelstoke in a 121-year-old home doing what we love: cooking and talking to people.”