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A Home Away from Home; Ruth Fry-McKennon ’54
Retreating to the antique-filled parlor after a leisurely walk by the Carter Run, a winding stream in the rear of the early American Pennsylvania German home, you sit enjoying the warmth of the fire. Surrounded by quiet — there are no telephones or televisions to cause distractions— the lady of the house offers you a cup of tea.
That lady, Ruth Fry-McKennon’54, and her husband Mick, are the owners of the Carter Run Inn Bed and Breakfast in Lancaster County, Pa.
Ruth and her husband have owned the B&B for more than 21 years. “We literally just fell into it,” she says.
Running the B&B, which is open year round, is a 24/7 job. From early in the morning until late at night, Ruth says, “we meet and greet, and clean.” But for Ruth, it’s a labor of love. “If you like people and you like to work, it’s a natural. We do everything ourselves—cooking, cleaning, the whole bit.” In the mornings guests awake to the delicious smells of Ruth’s complimentary breakfast of waffles and syrup, fresh fruit of the season, assorted bagels and hot coffee.
Business hasn’t changed much in the last 21-plus years, she says. “People are always people. They’re a little more demanding now—Americans want private baths, but Europeans don’t seem to mind.”
The biggest change, she says, is that younger guests in their 30s-40s are uncovering the charms of the B&B these days. “They realize the difference between a hotel, a motel and a B&B. There’s more personal treatment and the amenities are more fine-tuned.” Some guests have even called the Inn their second home, and one couple has made it a tradition to stay at the Inn annually for the past 16 years. Other guests have felt so moved by their stay, that they are often brought to tears when it’s time to leave. For many, Ruth says, especially those with hectic lives, the Inn is a haven, a quiet respite from the rigors of daily life.
The historic house, which was built in 1865, was once one of three homes owned by a family of veterinarians. There’s a parlor on the first floor, three bedrooms, each with a private bath, and a library on each floor. The specialized Count Zinzendorf suite, named after Nicolaus Ludwig Zinzendorf, a German religious and social reformer and bishop of the Moravian Church, even comes with a Jacuzzi for two. Ruth describes the atmosphere of the Inn as “plain, simple and clean.”
The McKennons have furnished the B&B themselves with antiques such as a highboy, which stands about six feet high, and an antique clock which is equally as high.
The four acres of land surrounding the B&B also contain the McKennon’s home, located next door, as well as a tenant house, a stream, and beautiful surrounding gardens complete with flowering fruit trees and a fish pond. Though business is pretty steady all year, October and November are the most popular months for guests to visit. “People like to come home to the farm. The fall weather makes people think of coming to Lancaster County for the harvest and the historic places,” Ruth says.
Owning and running the Carter Run Inn has become a way of life for the McKennons. Life-long friendships made with people from all over the world has been Ruth’s greatest joy, she says. “I find a lot of pleasure in dealing with people,” she says. “It’s very rewarding.”
– Tiffany M. Clayton ’08