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A new bed & breakfast for Iowa Park

By: Sherrie Williams
After several decades, Iowa Park now has lodging to offer visitors, thanks to one woman’s labor of love and desire to share what she calls, “a beautiful piece of Iowa Park’s history” with others.

Ruth James and her husband Gene bought 103 West Park almost a decade ago for storage, which is what it was being used for when they bought it.
According to Ruth, the two story building had been used for storage for years and was full of cob webs upstairs.

Their son and daughter-in-law, Greg and Lynette refurbished the upstairs and lived there several years.

After they moved, it was again rented as an apartment.

When that couple moved out Ruth decided she wanted to do something different.

As she pondered what she would do with it, she learned there were many who were participating in the Hotter-n-Hell Bike Race seeking a place to stay.
Soon she was contacted and all three bedrooms were spoken for by six people participating in Hotter-n-Hell.
She began working on giving each room a personality.

Kathy Hicks ask to help decorate and was soon joined by her husband, Richard. Gene pitched in and worked along side Ruth as the day neared the six would arrive.

“I had a lot of help,” she said.

The three bedroom apartment soon sparkled. The fully functional kitchen was stocked twith continental breakfast foods. The living area features plenty of seating, as well as a television and DVD player.

Two end tables hide what is really six board games on trays.

Each bedroom has a plush bed and a lock of the doors. There are two bathrooms, one in the hallway on the front two bedroom. The occupant of the third bedroom would share a bath.

When the idea of a bed and breakfast was born, she learned many people in Iowa Park not only supported the idea, but were excited that Iowa Park could now offer lodging to visitors. ”It would be great for a family, or because each room has locks, individuals.” Ruth said.

Word has spread that the building would be a Bed and Breakfast and some have booked rooms for next year’s homecoming event, according to Ruth.
Cost for a room is $50 a night with a minimum of two nights.

She had already begun to work on restoring some of the finer details of the building, bring some of the woodwork back to original and uncovering many hidden treasures, such as carvings in the door hinges, a brass flap covering a “peep hole.”

As she sat and talked about the history of the building, she pointed out the hardwood floors. She said, “These floors were put down in the late 1800s. A lot of grandparents and great-grandparents of Iowa Park residents spent time here.”

Soon she lost herself in her work as more details began to appear. A door hinge, clearly an original with very integral detail designs, chair rails, even a door knob from the late 1800s.

Ruth said many people ask to see the building. “This way I can open it up, so more people can have the opportunity to enjoy it . If everyone else can enjoy the building as much as I’ve already enjoyed it, then this is worthwhile.”

She said the building was originally built for a grocery store down stairs and the upstairs was used by a service group called the Odd Fellows.
The building is adjacent to the Mitchell Building, which the James bought last year.

A door leads from the apartment hallway and foyer into the Mitchell Building. She hopes to complete the refurbishing of the Mitchell Building soon and may even expand the Bed and Breakfast.

“I love history and this is history, a beautiful piece of history,” said Ruth.

She is already looking forward to decorating it for Christmas.

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