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December 08, 2016
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At home in a country inn: Restoring past glories

Victoria Lesser stands outside the North Branch Inn
TRR photos by Jonathan Charles Fox

Lesser’s desire to update, while preserving the inn’s historical integrity was paramount to the project, and she knew that a bed and breakfast was the “only way to go.” What was not part of the plan, however, was taking up residence herself. “I had no plans to actually live here,” she said, “but I was informed that I had to, in order to run the B&B. That changed everything. I looked at the place anew, figuring out what part of the inn would become my apartment. Once I realized that I could design my living quarters, replete with 20-foot ceilings and a dream kitchen that embraces the country style, I was hooked.” Hiring local contractors and slipping into work boots, Lesser dug in, doing much of the work herself. Ripping into lath and plaster and exposing the original bead-board were all part of a day’s work, as Victoria labored tirelessly alongside the hired help. “Each day brought a new discovery, as well as a new challenge,” she recalled, “but it never occurred to me to give up. I was like a dog on a bone,” she laughed, recalling the many hardships and mounting costs encountered along the way. “I never gave up. Not in my nature.”

Today, the Old North Branch Inn attracts visitors once again. Amenities abound, yet it’s impossible to discern where modern-day updates took place, since Lesser’s attention to detail is meticulous. Visitors will never know where walls were knocked out, or old closets made way for spacious private baths attached to each room, all of which invite with country charm, beautiful decor and peaceful views of the surrounding countryside.

Seamlessly renovated, every corner of the facade remains intact, and although the pool is long gone, the interior boasts a stunning bar brought up from New York City, with its own history, which the proprietor will be happy to share, lugging out the albums filled with photographs that explore the rich history of the inn. Never one to rest on her laurels, Lesser continues to strive for innovation.

“Oh, I’ve got plans,” she said gleefully. “This place is a haven for private parties, family reunions and musical interludes that draw interest from the community as well as visitors.”

The bowling alley is fully functioning and converts into a screening room, providing more opportunities to be entertained in style, while basking in the country charm that abounds. Rotating art exhibits, alluring antiques available for purchase, and that gorgeous bar, which features locally sourced snacks and beverages, enhance any visit to the Old North Branch Inn that Victoria Lesser calls home.