Why did you decide to start-up a business in Ambridge?
Preservation of Harmonist homes. These are the only houses like this in the world. You can go anywhere but this type of quality and uniqueness in terms of both location and the buildings is something that you can’t find anywhere else. This was my third home (and I will be starting my fourth soon) that I have restored and as I worked on them, I recognized the importance in letting the buildings speak to me in order to do them justice in the restoration.
How easy was it to start your business?
While it was not an easy process, there is so much to be learned from renovating historic homes. When we bought this house in 1998, it was a pigsty. Using our private funds, we worked hard over the years to restore Heslet House to its original glory. Of course, the house could have been finished faster but we wanted to make sure to be historically accurate/respectful of the original structure; and life got in the way as well.
My friend and master carpenter, Jason Korvick, taught me this saying in working on houses: You can have two of these three, “Good. Fast. Cheap." Of the three words only two can be chosen and that will be the mindset that drives your vision. We chose good and cheap (though cheap didn’t exactly pan out). One very important note that must be stressed is that you need to do plenty of research and you need to be a planner in order to take on historic home renovation.
How welcoming was the community?
The community was pretty welcoming, we have gotten a lot of positive feedback from both the town and our guests. Most of our guests are from out of state but we also have a lot of people who are originally from Ambridge and in town on visits that stay with us as well. The Borough has also come a long way in the past few years and we have experienced such a positive difference in its management.
What is the value of having your business in Ambridge versus a town such as Beaver?
The Historic District. Without it, we wouldn’t have this amazing Harmonist home. Our intentions have always been to restore and renovate it rather than to remodel it because when you remodel, you lose a national treasure. The Heslet House is one of a kind and we wanted to maintain and restore the original character and fabric of the house in a modern and livable context. We want to share this beautiful building that we have with the community, it would be a crime not to. It’s like having a masterpiece and keeping it to yourself, you can’t hide treasure under a bushel basket. As a result, our hope is that people are inspired by the potential of these homes and are emboldened to do the same thing.
How have you been impacted by the community of Ambridge after opening this business?
Though every community has its issues, the people of Ambridge are beginning to understand that there must be change in order to develop and flourish. Now that the Borough is growing and we have committees working together to see a change in Ambridge, it is encouraging to own a business here. Thanks to the rich history of Ambridge, when you stay at Heslet House, you are able to hear all of the interesting stories about the community and the legacy of the Harmonists.