- Associated Press - Friday, August 21, 2015

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - Gene and Kriss Royer have loved living in their 135-year-old house on Boonville’s High Street and running a bed and breakfast there.

“This home has blessed us,” Kriss Royer said.

But it’s time for the couple to move on, and they want to put the High Street Victorian Bed and Breakfast in the hands of someone who will love it just as much, the Columbia Missourian (https://bit.ly/1HPGR68 ) reported.

They decided that instead of selling the house in the conventional way, they will follow the example of a Maine B&B; owner: Janice Sage offered her Center Lovell Inn as an essay contest prize after coming by the B&B; in the same way.

“Why do you want to own the High Street Victorian Bed and Breakfast?” Answer that question in 200 words or fewer and you could win the historic B&B.; The grand prize is their mortgage-free home, an estimated $50,000 in furniture and the inn’s website.

The Royers bought the house a dozen years ago and began renovating and furnishing it. After their children moved out seven years ago, the couple decided to follow their dream of owning a bed and breakfast and opened their home to the world. They converted the house to an inn and began taking reservations. Since then, Kriss Royer said, the business has built up its return customer base and earned excellent ratings on TripAdvisor.

Although Royer said she and her husband love operating the B&B;, they feel they need to leave Boonville to be near family on the West Coast. She said they’ll open another bed and breakfast in their new home, but that leaves the question of what to do with their current home. After deciding to try the essay contest approach, they drafted contest rules and sent them to an attorney, who gave the couple the go-ahead.

“We thought it was an incredible way to get into a home like this,” Royer said. “Somebody could get it who really wants a bed and breakfast and not have to worry about the mortgage. … It would be a huge blessing.”

The 3,500-square-foot house has four bedrooms and 2 1/2 bathrooms, as well as a garden with a koi pond and waterfall. The house, built in 1880 and added onto in 1885, still has its original Victorian gas lights, molding, cast-iron door hinges and fireplace covers, among other touches. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places, according to a plaque on the front of the house.

Royer said the contest’s website had already received more than 4,500 views. She said even though some people have voiced skepticism about the contest on its social media pages, reactions have been generally positive.

“I think it’s such a unique idea for a lot of people,” she said. “The questioning and skepticism has been very little compared to people who said they love the house and they wanted to enter.”

Competitors will have to submit a $150 fee, an entry form and a 200-word essay about why they want to own the High Street Victorian. According to the contest’s website, the entry fees will be held in an escrow account until the Royers meet their goal of 2,500 applicants. If the goal is not reached, the money will be refunded.

Royer said she and her husband will review every essay to make sure they follow the contest’s guidelines. The couple will choose their 25 favorite essays and send them to a panel of independent judges to choose a winner. The winner will then have 10 days to decide whether to accept the prize.

Although applicants are welcome to pay for a stay in the bed and breakfast, the Royers ask that entrants do not visit the house or ask them for contest information in person so that they can remain objective and so their guests can enjoy the bed and breakfast in peace.

Further information about the house, the contest’s complete rules and entry forms can be found at the contest’s website. All submissions must be postmarked on or before Oct. 15 to be considered.

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Information from: Columbia Missourian, https://www.columbiamissourian.com

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