While on the property, one might feel a sensation akin to having stepped into a scene written by Harper Lee. It's easy to imagine a pale-skinned Boo Radley suddenly appearing in a doorway to quickly pass you a secret note, or maybe the rustle of newspaper pages coupled with the low voice of Atticus Finch while he reads an article to his daughter.
Lots of old establishments have presence, and this one is no exception. Nee (my sister) accompanied me for the interview. She took care of the photography while I took notes. Both of us were enchanted and intrigued with the many fascinating bits of history, art, culture and craftsmanship displayed throughout the property. Our host, Mr. Jim Stinson, proprietor since 1992, proved to be an exceptional historian and provided us with a top-notch tour of New Harmony's Old Rooming House.
A uniquely endearing place, blending past and present
Eclectic, wild, historic, artsy, homey, comfortable ... the property is a wonderful, imaginative mix of these descriptions and many more.
One of the first points of interest on the property is the lawn furniture. The glider and chairs are famous among guests and locals. They date to the 1940s and '50s. Varied paint layers denote the style of the era, and they reminded me of my own family's lawn and patio furniture on our farm in Pumpkin Run.
Our chairs were green, and I'm pretty sure one of our kin had a glider nearly identical to the one pictured above.
Jim pointed out that the chairs and glider were where guests and residents gathered to pass the time in conversation while they snapped beans or enjoyed a cool drink or maybe an after dinner coffee.
Most of us who grew up in the rivers' land share memories made up of similar scenes. Sit in the glider for a spell and you may find yourself hearing the snap of sheets in the breeze while they hang drying on a line, and the scent of crisp-green (know what I mean?) from someone prepping green beans, looking lettuce or broccoli and shucking corn.
Yup - I was in love with this place the first time I stepped onto the old front porch.
Guests who take notice while exploring will find an impressive variety of pieces by local artisans featured in the lawn and gardens as well as inside the house. That brought on some big appreciation from me because not only is he mindful of his own business, but he's also generous in calling attention to others in the indie biz community.
Traditional but not ordinary ...
I've never found New Harmony to be ordinary. It's one of the things I love about the village, residents and businesses there. Historic yes, but never ordinary. The location of the rooming house is a good example. It's not some building surrounded by a big parking lot. It's in a beautiful residential area - so staying there is much like renting rooms in your great-great-grandma's house.
Jim graciously bragged on his wonderful neighbors, explaining how they're friendly and supportive. To hear his description of them was refreshing and I'm confident he was totally sincere in his praises. To maintain the dynamics of their relationship, he works to ensure there's no occlusion on the street in front of the house or in the alley behind it. Instead, he provides ample parking space in the back of the property and requires that guests be mindful of noise levels, especially after dark.
The house rules haven't been a deterrent. Guests repeatedly choose this place to be their preferred choice in local accommodations, often making reservations several months in advance to ensure rooms are available.
Setting an appointment for our interview took a bit of time in order for us to find a gap between check-ins, so we could have access to the rooms without disturbing anyone. It was totally worth the wait, too. Once we got started it became obvious why many guests often become regulars when visiting Posey County.
That's saying something considering the rooming house has no WiFi and no televisions. Guests can hook up their computers, but to access local WiFi they have to make a short trip to the village-center and visit Sarah's Harmony Way or the Workingmen's Institute, which houses the village library and museum. Both places are within walking distance and well-worth visiting whether or not you're in need of a WiFi signal. Within the same area are some wonderful shops to visit as well, like the Antique Emporium where you'll find a variety of excellent displays featuring goods and art produced by other indie biz artists and entrepreneurs at awesome prices.
The stuff dreams are made of
We asked Jim if his guests ever reported on having out-of-the-ordinary experiences while staying at the house. He had no ghost stories to share (which was a relief to me), but he still relayed some intriguing information.
Frequently his guests tell him they sleep better at the rooming house than they do anywhere else. That part doesn't surprise me because both Nee and I actually discussed how the house and grounds had a very good feel to them, meaning a refreshing and relaxing atmosphere.
His guests report the same sort of feelings to him and several have mentioned vivid dreaming during their stay. It happens often enough that Jim frequently asks guests about their dreams when they check out.
He shared two such occasions that I have his permission to share here.
Once a veteran stayed at the house. He was a military helicopter pilot during the Viet Nam war and had survived a crash that happened when his chopper was shot down on a mission. After he checked out his room was rented shortly after to a new guest.
Jim asked the second guest upon checkout if she'd slept well and if she'd had any dreams during her stay. She said she slept well but dreamed of being in a helicopter crash. She'd not met the pilot who'd used the room before her, nor had Jim discussed the veteran's service incident with her.
On another occasion, Jim, whose private residence is in the back of the house, dreamed of trying to speak French. On checkout the next morning, he shared the information with a guest, who was surprised and told him she was born in France but hadn't lived there in years.
Alicia and I found the dreaming incidents to be intriguing and charming rather than spooky, which for me, is always a plus.
Too much for words
There were so many interesting aspects of the house's interior that I could fill up pages worth of description for you. Instead, I made a video. It's not a long one but it's an effective one, thanks to Nee's awesome photography.
I hope you'll cut me some slack if you deem it not quite up-to-snuff. I'm still very new with video-production but I'm sure it's passable enough to provide you with a quality idea of the grounds and house.
Our sincere thanks to Jim Stinson for the fun and accommodating tour. We had a great time getting acquainted with him and his wonderful property.
To find out more about this awesome indie biz, just visit The Old Rooming House website, where you'll find several more points of interest on the history of the house as well as pricing and reservation information.
If we (Nee and I) were to suggest hotel accommodations for friends or relatives visiting the area, this would be the place. So, if you're planning to be in the area and are looking for a fun and interesting place to stay, please consider The Old Rooming House.
That's it for this one!
God bless you, thanks for the read and please don't forget to thank a veteran at your next opportunity!
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