A historic bed and breakfast in Jamaica Plain was just placed on the market for $3,350,000 after closing its doors for good due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Owners David Elliott and Daryl Bichel are selling the Taylor House Bed and Breakfast, a 15-room Italianate Victorian mansion they bought in 1995, lovingly restored, and converted into a bed and breakfast. The property was built in 1853 for international merchant George Taylor.
The owners said they had no intention of shuttering the business this year, but couldn’t recover after numerous cancellations over the global health crisis. By the end of May they had 170 cancellations, a loss of about $200,000 and “a huge chunk of our business,” Elliott said.
Bichel said he’s nostalgic and remorseful about the sale, but “feeling good about the beauty of what we created here both inside and out.”
Twenty-five years ago, the duo spotted a “for sale” sign while biking through the neighborhood and took a tour of the mansion, which had been on the market for two years and was “just a mess,” Elliott said.
“What grabbed me about the house is it has this very bold, masculine look to it,” Bichel said. “Plus, it has this amazing octagonal tower on the top.”
They took a leap of faith and bought the 5,620-square-foot home.
“The furthest thing on my mind was buying a house,” Elliott said. “It changed our lives.”
At the time, Elliott, a native of Washington, D.C., was working as a technical trainer at Bank of Boston, and Bichel, a native of South Dakota, was in administration at the Harvard School of Public Health. They promptly bought a book about how to run a bed and breakfast.
They named the property Taylor House after its original owner. The home was previously called the Haffenraffer Mansion because the Haffenraffer family used to live there, Elliott said.
“We had a woman from the Haffenraffer family, born here in 1930, visit us in 1996 and explain the floor plan on the first floor,” Elliott said. “She had drawings she had done as a child.”
The mansion was comprised of five apartments when they bought it, so they converted it back into a single-family home. The nine-bedroom, 7.5-bath mansion now boasts custom profile moldings and medallions by Boston Ornaments, restored 19th-century chandeliers, copper gutters, and custom doors and arches.
Guests from every US state and more than 50 countries have enjoyed the property over the years, Elliott said.
In 2004, when same-sex marriage was legally recognized in the state of Massachusetts, “we had people coming from all over the United States,” Elliott said. Taylor House was also a popular spot for those traveling to the city for the Boston Marathon, many of them coming back year after year from overseas, he said.
The stately home saw many repeat visitors over the years, including a couple from London who traveled to Jamaica Plain three times a year for 15 years to attend New England Patriots games at Gillette Stadium, Elliott said. The spot was a popular one for Boston sports fans, who could take the Orange Line to TD Garden, he said. A woman from Germany, a New Kids on the Block fan, stayed with them whenever she secured tickets to a local show.
Joey McIntyre from New Kids on the Block is among the celebrities who have stayed at the bed and breakfast, as well as Academy Award-winning actress Susan Sarandon and Emmy Award-winning actor Tony Shalhoub, Elliott said.
The home, with its lush garden and cobblestone courtyard, has hosted many weddings, graduation and anniversary parties, and more over the years. Elliott said 15 such events were cancelled this summer. Bichel’s catering business, Persimmon, would often provide food for the events.
Bichel’s breakfasts for overnight guests included popular items like apple French toast and sweet and spicy bacon.
“In recent years I became a fan of [Israeli-English chef] Yotam Ottolenghi, and I started making his dishes,” Bichel said. “So the breakfast really became more of a brunch.”
Bichel, an organist, launched an intimate monthly concert series in the mansion’s music room in 2007 featuring classical and jazz.
“It was very popular with musicians and artists,” Bichel said. “We’re still getting requests for people to perform.”
Guests of the mansion were also treated to local art from Bichel’s collection of about 150 paintings, sculpture, and pottery.
“Every room in the house, whether it’s a bedroom or common area, has original art,” Bichel said.
“It’s very sad because we put so much effort [into the mansion] over the past 25 years,” Elliott said. “We’re still kind of in shock.”
Elliott said it’s important to them that a potential buyer appreciate the historic nature of the property.
“We’re interested in people who are interested in historic renovations and keeping a house historically correct,” Elliott said.
You can take an online tour of the Taylor House Bed and Breakfast, which is being sold by Elliott’s company Taylor House Realty, here.
The owners are also selling the nearby 3,500-square-foot home The Gables at 3 Agassiz Park, which they also rented to guests, for $2,299,000. You can take an online tour of The Gables here.
Open House information:
Saturday from noon to 2 p.m.
Sunday from 1 to 3 p.m.