The Grape Arbor, a Victorian, Lake Erie bed and breakfast inn, consists of two side-by-side mansions: the Bester Town Home (circa 1832) and the Hampson Home (circa 1835). They are located at 51 and 55 East Main Street in North East, Pennsylvania.
Common rooms for guests are located in the Bester Town House and include:
The Library was once a stagecoach tavern in the late 1800s. The cozy room is now adorned with a fireplace, hardwood floor, beamed ceilings, an eclectic book collection, TV and VHS player, games, and videotapes. There is always a table with a jigsaw puzzle begging to be finished, and room for board or card games.
The Parlor has a comfortable conversation area. Furnishings include a tall, cherry secretary with antique porcelain skaters and marble-topped tables. It is a perfect spot for socializing with other guests or enjoying daily hors d'oeuvres.
The Dining Room
The Dining Room has a carved fireplace mantel, numerous built-in china cabinets, dark-stained hardwood floors, and a large, antique sideboard with an interesting history. An oriental-patterned rug sets off the intricately inlaid table. If you are lucky, a seasonal gingerbread building will be on display. Enjoy breakfast in this elegant atmosphere.
The Sun Porch
As an alternative to the more formal Dining Room, the Sun Porch is a light and airy room, with a full view of the surrounding gardens. Eat your breakfast and read the newspaper to the sound of chirping birds.
The Common Rooms offer an elegant setting for your next small event. The setting and service can make any occasion special.
Grape Arbor's History
The two buildings are among the oldest brick residences in North East, with interesting history. Both homes were constructed by carpenter Nathaniel Norris, beginning in 1832. The Bester Town Home was built in the fashionable Federal-style, featuring an elliptical arch window with a fanlight and decorative stonework over the front entrance. The roof, added in the Victorian-style, is embellished with overhangs and curved brackets.
The self-supporting circular staircases in the central halls of both buildings are a neoclassical design developed by architect Asher Benjamin in the late 1700s. There is a panel in the Chancellor suite of 55 East Main that allows viewing of the construction of the staircase - pegged, mortise and tenon joints - no nails.
The Bester House once served as a stagecoach tavern, a boarding house, a doctor's residence, North East's first kindergarten, a home for the elderly, and a restaurant. Although not officially documented, this house is said to have been used as a temporary station on the Underground Railroad during the Civil War.