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Giving Inn

Megan Kopp - Click to Enlarge
by Megan Kopp

I chose to spend the day biking around Lewisburg, heading out along quiet country roads to explore the pastoral wonder of Central Pennsylvania under my own power. Motorists seemed to be incredibly polite, perhaps it’s because locals are used to the slower-moving Amish buggies that still frequent backroads and by-ways. We chugged along beside Buffalo Creek, passing the historic Grove’s Mill, built in the 1700’s and still in operation today.

While the rest of my group spent the afternoon antique shopping at Roller Mills Antique Center and exploring Walnut Acres Organic Food Farm, I paddled down the Susquehanna River with Betsy and Allan Quant in their 12-passenger voyageur canoe. Feeling a need to stretch stiffening legs, I took a pre-dinner stroll through New Berlin, following a historic walking tour pamphlet as I meandered along Penn’s Creek.

Dinner at Gabriel’s that began with Salad Neapolitan (layers of field greens, mushrooms and feta cheese topped with sun dried tomato vinaigrette and toasted pine nuts), followed by citrus and ginger marinated chicken and salmon with a fresh cream sauce and topped off with a shortbread crusted triple-berry pie. Replete, I was more than ready to give in to a peaceful night’s rest.

When I awoke the next morning, snuggled beneath a blue-tone, hand-made Amish quilt, lace curtains filtering the early light, I heaved a sigh of contentment. The Inn at New Berlin in the heart of Central Pennsylvania has that effect. As I strolled across the hall to my personal bathroom, floorboards creaked and I was struck by memories of visiting my Grandmother’s home. I stood a little straighter and was tempted to make my bed before heading down the wooden staircase to investigate the mouthwatering aromas of breakfast below. 

The Victorian-style Jacob Schoch House, lovingly restored, now welcomes guests from around the world. Photo credit: M. Kopp.  Click to Enlarge
The Victorian-style Jacob Schoch House, lovingly restored, now welcomes guests from around the world. Photo credit: M. Kopp. Click to Enlarge
Mmm... cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger. The French toast with pear streusel topping was made with Challah bread, the Jewish braided egg bread.

A Victorian-style country inn -- with 5 rooms in the historic 1906 Jacob Schoch House, 4 rooms in the Samuel Aurand House and 2 rooms in a 175-year-old brick home -- the Inn at New Berlin is run with the philosophy of "aspiring to inn-spire." 

This spirit is reflected in everything from the carefully chosen stuffed animals adorning each bed to the attitude of the waitstaff in Gabriel's Restaurant in the main inn building.

The staff at Gabriel's collect loose coins received, up to one dollar each per shift, and stow them in a glass bowl. Once the bowl is full, the change is emptied, counted, matched by Innkeepers John and Nancy Showers and delivered to thankful charities. 

The idea, initiated by waitress Tiffany Knorr, has provided funds for the Mountoursville TWA Flight 800 Family Fund, ALS Research, Haven Ministries, Lupus Research Foundation, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the local Ronald McDonald House.

Executive chef Scott Brouse and cohort Gabriel keep a close watch on the herb garden behind  the inn's restaurant. Photo credit: M. Kopp.  Click to Enlarge
Executive chef Scott Brouse and cohort Gabriel keep a close watch on the herb garden behind the inn's restaurant. Photo credit: M. Kopp. Click to Enlarge

The graciousness of John and Nancy and their staff is infectious and guests soon feel not only welcome, but at home. It is a feeling that prevails. At the historic, mid-1800’s Samuel Aurand house a small metal sign hangs on the door of a private apartment. It reads: Innkeeper’s Mother. John’s parents ran a general store in this building for many years and his mother now has a suite in the old family quarters.

John says they have no intention of expanding beyond possibly one more room in the carriage house behind the main inn. "We don’t want to become an impersonal hotel, we want to have the chance to get the know the people who stay with us." If you spend time with John as he works in the herb garden, or chat with Nancy about son Michael’s framed grade school artwork hanging next to family photos, I think you’ll find you enjoy the chance to get to know these folks too. A table in the Inn’s sunken living room holds photo albums which chronicle their 9-month labor of love that transformed the old house into a romantic retreat now listed in the Innkeeper’s Register as one of the distinguished inns of North America. 

If can bring yourself to abandon the porch swing, the Susquehanna Valley has a whole host of activities awaiting your pleasure -- from bicycling quiet backroads to visiting Mary Koon’s quilt shop, touring the Packwood House, Slifer House or Mifflinburg Buggy Museum, or attending tastings at local wineries. Regardless of how you choose to pass the time, the Inn and its surroundings are a getaway that will take you home again, back to a simpler time when people cared.

If you go:

Mid-week rates range from $83 - $135 and include a complete breakfast at Gabriel’s. For further information and reservations at the Inn at New Berlin, call 570-966-0321 or visit online at www.newberlin-inn.com.

For further information on the Valleys of the Susquehanna area and its various attractions, call toll free 877-507-3570 or visit online at www.pavalleys.com.

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Megan Kopp is a freelance writer published in a variety of markets including Reader’s Digest, Canadian Living, Western People, YES Magazine, Western Parent, Northwest Family and The Traveler’s Journal. She has traveled extensively throughout Western Canada and the United States; spent time in the Cook Islands, New Zealand, Australia, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Belize and have recently been re-directing her writing efforts towards sharing my passion for new sights, smells and sounds.

Email:  Megan Kopp

 

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