Bed Check

This Vic­to­rian man­sion is a wel­com­ing pit stop in Philly.

The Washington Post Sunday - - TRAVEL - BY TI­MOTHY R. SMITH smitht@wash­post.com

When I travel, I of­ten find my­self in some state of lost. This isn’t al­ways a bad thing, mind you. But if it’s snow­ing, as it was on a re­cent Satur­day in Philadel­phia, then things aren’t so naively nice. I had been on my feet most of the day, twice got­ten off at the wrong sta­tion, jumped on the wrong trol­ley and trudged more than a mile through the snow. I could barely feel my legs. Did I still have a face?

I needed hot cof­fee and a bed. Af­ter I dis­cov­ered that my smart­phone could nav­i­gate pub­lic tran­sit sys­tems (since when did it do this?) I mademy way to Cor­ner­stone Bed and Break­fast, just off the Drexel Uni­ver­sity cam­pus.

There on the corner was a pleas­ant Vic­to­rian man­sion with green and red trim, a broad porch and warm golden light pour­ing from the win­dows. It was straight out of a Thomas Kinkade paint­ing! Ah, my bed and break­fast.

I rang the bell, and co-owner Liz Bartelme in­vited me in. She op­er­ates the Cor­ner­stone with her hus­band, Den­nis, and her daugh­ter and son-in-law, Jules and Chris Spaeth. It was Jules’s dream to own a B&B, it turned out, but for now at least, she’s liv­ing vi­car­i­ously through her par­ents.

The Bartelmes have owned the 145-year-old man­sion for just a lit­tle more than two years. The pre­vi­ous pro­pri­etor also ran it as a B&B — sin­gle-hand­edly.

“I don’t know how she did that,” Liz said.

Warm and invit­ing, the house was pleas­antly scented with pot­pourri. Check-in was quick. Den­nis and Liz gave me the bed­room key and com­pli­men­tary cof­fee.

Each of the Cor­ner­stone’s six guest rooms has a Philadel­phia themed name. I stayed in the peri­win­kle-walled Franklin, named for the poly­math Found­ing Fa­ther. Hang­ing on the wall was a plate fea­tur­ing a Nor­man Rock­well paint­ing of Ben sign­ing the Dec­la­ra­tion of In­de­pen­dence. The bureau held two books of his wit­ti­cisms. Other rooms in­cluded the Philadel­phian and the Frank Fur­ness, af­ter the ar­chi­tect who most in­flu­enced Philly’s cityscape.

Most quaint were the fam­ily por­traits on the walls: Black and-White wed­ding pho­tos, they were a ge­nealog­i­cal slide show of the Bartelmes’ par­ents and grand­par­ents. In the din­ing room were the nat­u­ral­iza­tion pa­pers for Den­nis’s grand­fa­ther, who’d im­mi­grated to Pitts­burgh from Hun­gary.

Af­ter I’d di­vested my­self ofmy gear, Den­nis gave me a list of lo­cal eater­ies. What I re­ally wanted was to hear some jazz, so he found a jazz cafe on­line and drew me a map in pen­cil.

Af­ter a few hours of lis­ten­ing to mu­sic, all I wanted was a lie-down. I put my­self in bed and the thick pil­lows gob­bled me up.

In the morn­ing, I awoke to the sweet aroma of blue­berry pan­cakes and sausage. At break­fast, I im­bibed too much cof­fee. Roasted lo­cally, it was sub­lime. How­many cups did I have? Five, six, was it?

“You’ll have to use the bath­room all day,” Liz joked. By noon I was off. When I travel, I tend to lose things other than my­self. While wait­ing for the sub­way, I got a call from Chris. I’d left my cell­phone charger be­hind. He of­fered to bring it to me at the sta­tion, but I told him no prob­lem, I’d come back and col­lect it.

I had to use the bath­room.

JUMP­ING ROCKS

The Franklin Room is one of the Philadel­phia-themed rooms in the City of Broth­erly Love’s Cor­ner­stone Bed and Break­fast.

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