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Stillwater B&Bs Add Charm to Historic Minnesota Rivertown


(Stillwater, MN) The town of Stillwater is flush with history and tales of the rich and famous. Guests visiting this quaint river town on Minnesota’s eastern border can relive a part of that history by staying in one of the area’s beautifully appointed B&Bs or historic inns lining the turn-of-the-century residential neighborhoods. For detailed information on the town visit


Most of the inns were built in the late 1800s by the great lumber barons who made their fortunes off the vast stands of white pine gracing the bluffs of the St. Croix River Valley. The Boom went bust by the 1920s, and although the barons were broke, their mansions withstood the test of time and were converted to B&Bs in the early 1990s, nearly a century after their masters had lived, dined and entertained in these stately homes.


Stillwater’s dozen B&Bs offer an average of five guestrooms with fireplaces and private baths with luxurious whirlpools. Many also offer private balconies, decks with separate entrances or carriage house suites. All provide a late afternoon snack or reception, a four course gourmet breakfast and most importantly, a quiet retreat from the hustle and bustle of daily life in the serene neighborhoods of Stillwater. Prices start at a very reasonable $109 per night and climb to $250+ for a separate carriage house suite with spacious living area. Here’s a sampling of what to expect while visiting a Stillwater B&B.


William Sauntry Mansion – The only area B&B listed on the National Register, the Sauntry Mansion welcomes guests with a spacious parlor featuring a spectacular oil on canvas ceiling, stunning stained glass work and turn of the century furnishings in rich, elegant burgundy velvet. The dining room boasts the home’s original red birch table as well as original wall covering. This 1881 mansion was built for William Sauntry, one of the most famous and richest of the great barons, who was also a cousin to Bing Crosby’s mother. A cottage suite with separate entrance is available for total privacy.


The Elephant Walk B&B is Stillwater’s most eclectic choice. The foyer and living room areas are filled with elephant sculptures, antiques and other collectibles from Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia brought by proprietor Rita Graybill who lived in Asia and still travels there frequently to add to her collection. The Cadiz suite features a rose satin bed, sofa, a water fall, fish tank and a deck which overlooks the spacious back yard, complete with vegetable garden and even a chicken.


The Ann Bean B&B was built for Ann Hersey Bean whose father co-owned the Hersey, Bean & Brown Lumber Company. The entrance to this grand home exudes luxury and romance with a gorgeous parlor decked with antiques and elegant furnishings in shades from pale pink to fuchsia. The bay windows flood the dining room with sunlight for a cheery breakfast experience. Highlights include a 6’ diameter tub in “Cynthia’s Room” and a 4th floor tower that be accessed from the “Tower Suite.”


Cover Park Manor – If you crave a bit more of the countryside, head over to Cover Park Manor in nearby Oak Park Heights, and enjoy total seclusion on 100 acres of parkland and open vistas. The two mile hiking trail gets you close to wildlife and an outdoor skating rink provides a great fun in winter. What better way to appreciate the hot tub afterwards? Guestrooms contain private refrigerators stocked with wine, beverages and veggie/cheese trays as well as microwaves and popcorn. In fact there is no reason to leave the rooms and guests don’t want to – breakfast in bed is standard here.


James Mulvey B&B – This elegant painted lady decked in teal and cream with lavender accents is protected by a wrought iron fence and statues of two lions at the doorway. Guests can enjoy a cup of tea in the gazebo or take breakfast on the sunny porch, with a view of the expansive gardens. An 1880s grandfather clock, green grube (art pottery) fireplace and Lincrista wallpaper complement architectural details such as a curved wall atop the winding staircase and an attic bedroom with a private deck. Rooms are impeccably decorated, yet the ambiance is very welcoming and comfortable.


Rivertown Inn – The1882 Rivertown Inn is a stunning 9 bedroom mansion that has operated as a B&B since 1979. The ultimate in elegance and opulence, it is reminiscent of the finest European hotels. Everything about this home is done on a grand scale. The immense wooden front doors are from a western church and the stained glass windows, hand painted wall murals, tin ceilings and amazing collections of art and sculpture are of museum quality. Even the “snackery” off the kitchen is lit from above by a gorgeous stained glass skylight.


The nine guest rooms are spacious and regal, but vary in décor. Each named for a 19th century writer or poet, they range from the enchanting Lewis Carol attic room decked with statues of the Mad Hatter and White Rabbit to the romantic Jane Austin bedchamber with canopied bed and private bath with waterfall faucet. The private grand suites in the carriage house include the Agatha Christie Suite, which is a replica of the train car from Orient Express and Oscar Wilde Suite which features a king sized pentagon shaped canopy bed and is decked in rich velvets and leather furnishings in the mode of an English gentleman’s library. The Rivertown Inn offers some amazing extras including a massage room, themed wine dinners and gourmet cooking classes. Advanced reservations are recommended for these services.


Aurora Staples B&B – Built by lumber baron Isaac Staples for his favorite daughter Aurora, this lovely home is a testament to his devotion to her. A formal parlor and music room provide a welcome atmosphere for guests for wine and hors d’oeuvres upon arrival. Architectural details include gorgeous wood carvings containing Staples’ signature oak leaf, original stained glass windows and incredible views of the river and Stillwater’s trade marked lift bridge. The St. Croix Suite, which was Aurora’s bedroom until 1924, still contains her original walnut bedroom set – a wedding present from her parents. The Carriage house suite was restored by current owners and has a homey, rustic feel, with antique furnishings, a whirlpool tub, 3-sided fireplace and separate bathroom.


Lady Goodwood B&B – This elegant Queen Ann Victorian has been restored to its original splendor with parquet floors, beveled stained glass windows and en elegant exterior featuring fish scale shingles, gingerbreading and a round Palladian window. The three elegant guestrooms have distinctive color themes in tones of fresh blue and white, romantic purple and rose and regal green and gold. This B&B is conveniently located across from a quiet neighborhood park, yet just three blocks from dow
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