Story of the Southard House Bed and Breakfast Inn
The Innkeepers' Story
James and I met through our work. James was the editor, writer, and photographer for the Fairview Republican newspaper and I was the Director of PreventionWorkz, a non-profit substance abuse prevention center located in Enid.
I facilitated a drug and alcohol prevention coalition in Fairview and James began attending those meetings. One day after a coalition community event that we had both been volunteering to help with, James asked me if I would like to meet for coffee some time.
Needless to say we began dating in 2009. This was difficult because I lived in Enid and he lived in Fairview. It was hard for us to be apart because we enjoyed one another’s company so much. A few wonderful years went by and then James asked me to marry him.
We were engaged in May 2011. James sold his house in Fairview and moved to Enid in July 2011. He took a job as a news reporter for the Enid News and Eagle. My job was getting the best of me because it was very stressful and I did not enjoy my work anymore.
I began hating to go to work every day so I decided to do some soul searching and I started having conversations with God about making a career change. I kept feeling like God was calling me away from PreventionWorkz but I didn’t know where He was leading me yet. I made a list of all of my gifts, talents, and abilities and began to search out how they could best be used.
James and I had a very serious conversation about me leaving PreventionWorkz and opening a bed and breakfast as soon as possible. We had realized that Enid needed another B&B when I tried to make reservations in June 2012 for our honeymoon night and the whole inn was booked for another wedding that weekend.
It was obvious that Enid needed another bed and breakfast and it was time I did something about it! I felt like God was leading me to innkeeping because of my passion for hosting holiday tea parties, decorating, and creating beautiful things. We immediately began looking for houses in the Waverly Historic District. We found a few houses for sale but they did not speak to us. When we would go on a home tour with a realtor we would let the house speak to our spirits.
We never got any indication that the houses we were touring in the Waverly district were meant for us. We decided to start looking for houses in the Kenwood Historic District. We parked our car on the street one evening and took a walk in the neighborhood. We happened upon an empty neoclassical style house that was once the home of the territorial governor – Frank Frantz (who was a friend of the Southards).
We talked to the neighbor next door who just happened to be watering her flower beds that day and she told us that the lady that had the house would sell it but she wanted a lot of money for it – an amount that we knew we probably could not afford. There was a Victorian house next door and it looked abandoned so we began inquiring about it and found out it needed a tremendous amount of repair before it would be able to be open.
We were really excited about the possibility of both of those houses but the timing was just not right for them and for us. We saw Southard House but didn’t pay it much attention to it and began searching for more houses to tour. Eventually we came back around to the Kenwood district and realized that Southard House was still on the market so we asked for a tour.
James and I would go on walks in the evening after work to get exercise and we would talk about our plans and dreams for the inn. During one particular walk we were having a conversation about the inn and I told James that I wanted to use cherubs and angels as our moniker to decorate the bed and breakfast. During our tour of Southard House I noticed cherubs all over the place – including the beautiful mural above the grand staircase! The house was screaming at my spirit that it was the house for us.
After the tour James and I had a discussion and a few days later we made an offer on the house. We immediately began writing a business plan and our offer was accepted. We eventually met with the Historic Preservation Commission and they approved us using the house as a bed and breakfast. We won the land for the adjacent parking lot in a commissioner’s auction. We also went to a city commission meeting and got permission from the city to use the house as a bed and breakfast.
We began our search for financing in the hopes that we could get one big loan to include the mortgage on the house and all of the other business expenses. We visited numerous banks and were turned down every time. We began to get frustrated and feel hopeless and defeated. Our faith kept us moving forward and never giving up on this dream.
With the help of Missy Cole at the Small Business Development Center we got the help we needed to get all of the financing needed. We had to take out a traditional mortgage and we closed on the house in November 2012. We soon began working with contractors and getting our business affairs in order.
I quit my job before the wedding, which was held at our church on September 22, 2012 and I began working diligently each day to get each detail of the business lined out – especially the breakfast, the decorating of the inn, and the gift shop. James is still working full time at the ENE and hopes to be able to quit and manage the inn full time and realize his dream of becoming a published author.
With God’s guidance and the support of a great team of people, we completed preparations to open Southard House Bed & Breakfast as the finest lodging experience in northwest Oklahoma. Our dream has come true and yours can too! We hope you enjoy your stay here and you will return soon!