Groundhog Day B&B
Bed and Breakfast Blogging previously focused on Cedar Cove, a Hallmark TV show starring Andie MacDowell, that has a fictional bed and breakfast called The Thyme and Tide. Did you know that Andie was also in a big screen movie with scenes from a bed and breakfast? The name of this classic comedy was Groundhog Day.
The movie co-starred Bill Murray who played the role of weatherman Phil Connors who goes to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, to cover the annual Groundhog Day Festival. In reality, the movie was filmed an hour northwest of Chicago in the town of Woodstock, Illinois on 344 Fremont Street.
Bill Murray’s weatherman character, Phil, kept waking up to repeat the same day morning after morning in a bed and breakfast.
In the movie, at first his character Phil does not like his producer, Rita (played by Andie MacDowell), but he falls in love with her as he gets to know her. It is reported that, while they were acting, Andie thought Bill Murray was so funny that she could not stop laughing during the filming of several of their scenes.
The name of the B&B in the Groundhog Day movie is the “Cherry Street Inn“. Interestingly enough, the home was not a bed and breakfast during the time the movie was made. The movie producers built the interior set on a sound stage in a nearby warehouse. Just steps from the bed and breakfast, Woodstock Square was also used as a setting in the film. Filming took place for about a month in 1992 and the movie was in theaters in 1993.
The most recent owners of the property, Everton G. Martin and Karla Stewart-Martin, grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, moved around the country (since Everton was active duty Navy), moved back to Milwaukee when he got out of the military, raised their kids there and decided while planning for early retirement that they would like to move to a warmer climate. After looking in several states, they heard about the house here in Woodstock.
The house visually was what Karla and Everton were looking for (a historic home with lots of character, wraparound porch, pillars, beautiful perennial gardens, etc). It had been sitting empty for over two years when they came to see it. They decided it was the perfect venue for a bed & breakfast. The Martins purchased the property in March 2008 and opened for business June 1, 2010. They are still open and operating the profitable Bed & Breakfast.
Karla recalls receiving many suggestions about what to name their B&B. They ranged from renaming it “Cherry Street Inn” (its name in the movie) to “Groundhog Day Bed and Breakfast” and more. When the Martins bought the house, it was about 114 years old and they were determined to restore it to the regal, stately home it once was by giving it lots of TLC. Karla and Everton wanted to broaden their guest base to include those who had never seen the movie, but loved restoration of old homes and to those who love the B&B experience.
They named their place the Royal Victorian Manor Bed and Breakfast. They added the subtitle “Groundhog Day” to their signage and advertising. Karla and Everton think it is amazing that fans of the movie only see “Groundhog Day” Bed & Breakfast in their signage and those that have not seen the movie see “Royal Victorian Manor Bed & Breakfast.” From their website, it says that the inn “evolved to offer the perfect combination of modern amenities while maintaining its original majestic qualities.”
Renovations were extensive, and their first concern converting the house to a bed & breakfast without compromising the character of this historic home. Karla and Everton initially started with the landscaping on the outside. The fence on the front of the property that you see in the movie was gone. The arch was left but was in disrepair. They installed a new fence and arch, moved some trees around and manicured the perennial beds and added some interesting areas in the gardens.
Inside the house, they overhauled the electrical and plumbing, updated the HVAC (added air conditioning), gutted and updated the kitchen, parlor and dining room, added bathrooms so that the five bedrooms have en suites. Skylights were added to the soaring (10 feet tall or higher) ceilings, master suite, en suite, sitting room, laundry room, and full kitchen.
The Martin’s most favorite transformation was “hands down” the gourmet kitchen. Once gutted, they added French doors from the dining room into the kitchen, a center island, and hutches with butcher block and off white distressed cabinets and high tech, high efficient stainless steel appliances. It is a lot of fun for them to have it as a place for cooking.
Karla and Everton have a living space they enjoy because it is both functional and comfortable for them. They took over the turret on the third floor. They converted the open attic space to an apartment that is independent of the rest of the house. In keeping with the character of the house, they were able to add inside stairs to the attic (their living space) on the side and back of the house. They converted the attic space on the top floor to a self-contained living area with its own kitchen and laundry.
The three fireplaces on the first floor have the original wood mantel and surrounds. The Martins appreciate that they were able to keep the wood ornamental detail throughout that was original on the staircases and other parts of the house. The house has all the original hardwood floors, oak trim, stained-glass windows, and an updated gourmet kitchen.
The home has a grand wrap-around porch which overlooks a big fenced yard. Some of their favorite areas include the wraparound porch, the vegetable garden, the turret, and the kitchen.
The property has 5,815 square feet with eight bedrooms, eight and one-half baths, and is three stories tall. Each bedroom has its own name as well as charm and character. The Royal Suite has a window that has the view that is as close to the view in the movie of Bill Murray looking down the street. The home features 5 guest suites with private baths:
- Captain’s State Room
- Garden Suite
- Manor Suite
- Royal Suite
- Victorian Suite
They are able to host small and intimate events and special occasions such as:
- bridal parties
- renewal ceremonies
- baby showers
- business meetings
- birthday parties
- murder mysteries
- variety of retreats
Their favorite part of operating the B&B, without a doubt, is the many guests that visit the Martins, including those from all over the world. Guests come from various walks of life, a variety of hobbies, interests, and jobs that bring them here through Woodstock. Guests enjoy plenty of relaxation when they come to visit.
The couple has been running a successful B&B operation ever since they opened. Since the Martins would like to move closer to family, Karla and Everton have decided to sell their B&B. They plan to continue to operate the B&B until it sells, so it is business as usual for them. According to Karla, “No plans on what our next adventure will be!”
Their realtor, Rick Bellairs of Berkshire Hathaway, can be reached by phone at 815-382-8400 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit their website for more information.
Since purchasing the house, the community has shared many stories with them about the making of the movie here in town and some have provided some photos. Being an avid and passionate quilter, Karla added a groundhog wall quilt hanging in the foyer.
Every February 2 in their town of Woodstock, Illinois, the town celebrates with their annual Groundhog Day Festival. On that day, the movie Groundhog Day is screened at the local cinema. Guided walking tours are available that weekend. Visitors can hear the stories provided by people who were part of the film making process. They can see the plaque that commemorates the time Bill Murray repeatedly stepped in a puddle for this reoccurring scene in the movie.
A huge fan of this movie has the opportunity to purchase this celebrity movie house for sale. Perhaps even an experienced innkeeper will take on this new business opportunity. The Martins feel that keeping it a bed and breakfast would be a great asset to the community. Whatever happens, this bed and breakfast will always have its fame from the movie Groundhog Day. We thank the Martins for their generosity in responding to our questions and kindness to let us show some of their pictures. We wish them an even brighter future.
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