“It is really an honor,” Patty said with a smile. “To have them feature us is really something special.”
The real honor was how the story idea came about. Former guests of the cozy bed and breakfast actually called and sent emails to the station telling them how great their experiences were during their stay.
“When they contacted us, they said that we had been on their list for a while,” Patty said. “And when we found out they were coming because of the people that made them aware of us, it made it really special.”
“It really made it nice,” said Mason, “and it makes us feel really good about what we are doing here.”
The camera crew came in and stayed overnight Saturday, March 27 and left the next day around 10:30 a.m.
“They filmed a lot — inside, outside, they filmed Patty cooking breakfast,” Mason said. “It was a lot of fun.”
The couple purchased the 171-year-old house in 2006 after each quit their jobs in Linwood, New Jersey.
“It has always been my dream to own a bed and breakfast,” Patty said. “We both had good jobs, but this was something that we always wanted to do.”
“We sat down and came up with a plan,” Mason explained. “The plan was a good business plan, and we set out to make it happen.”
The two began their search in resort towns all along the east coast, but because they were resort towns, the cost to own and operate a business was just too high.
“With some of the prices, we wouldn’t have broke even,” Mason said. “So, we went back to the plan and sought out other ways to make our dream work.”
The two took a trip to North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia searching for the right bed and breakfast and town.
“Literally, the last house we came to was this one,” Mason said. “We got the information off a realtors website (before making the trip), and we asked if it could be shown to us.”
It was and the rest is history.
“We loved it as soon as we walked into it,” Patty said. “It was exactly what we were looking for. When we walked in, we knew this was it.”
The Ashford Inn began as a simple two room dwelling built in 1839 by George Marsh. It was purchased by Civil War Colonel John Ashford and his wife Elizabeth in 1869, where they raised their family.
“When we came here, we were looking for the perfect inn to suit what we wanted to do,” said Mason. “We were looking at the requisites we had for our bed and breakfast. We knew we wanted X amount of guest rooms (5), we wanted to have a place that had the zoning for a dining business and we wanted the place to be in good condition ... At the time when we were looking, we never took too much time to think about the community — but once we did, boy were we pleasantly surprised. Where we came from in New Jersey, people go out of their way to tell you what you can’t do — here, this community embraced us and welcomed us with open arms and went out of their way to ask what they could do to help us. It was incredible.”
“It was a huge surprise,” she said. “When we came here, no one ever said that we couldn’t do something, they all encouraged us and asked us what we needed. We couldn’t have asked for anything better. This community, the people, the Chamber ... it has been a blessing.”
The two moved from Linwood with just their bedroom furniture with them and now, almost, six years later, the happy couple has played host to thousands from around the world.
“It is just a dream job to us,” said Mason. “So many people come through here and say that they want to own a bed and breakfast and they talk about it, we sometimes forget that we actually went out and did it.”
“My mother seriously thought I was crazy,” laughs Patty. “When we first came here, she really thought I lost my mind, but when she got here and saw the house and the town, she told me she understood why I did it. People have to take chances and for us, failure wasn’t an option. We didn’t have unlimited resources, we were just regular working people that took a chance and did everything we could to make it work ... luckily it has.”
You can see more of the Tarr’s and The Ashford Inn on North Carolina Weekend this Thursday at 9 p.m. and again Friday at 8 p.m.
“We are hoping that people see that there is more here in Clinton,” Patty said. “We always say that people need to rediscover Clinton. It is a really cute small town. If you had been here years ago, you need to come back and check it out again.”
“We don’t think that people will come to a small town to just stay at a bed and breakfast,” Mason said. “We just think that it (the show) highlights one of the things to do when people stay here in Clinton — this is part of the bigger picture.”
For more information on the Ashford Inn, located at 615 College St., click on to www.ashford-inn.com.
To reach Doug Clark call 910-592-8137 ext. 123 or send e-mail to email@example.com.