Lodi’s Hill House reopens as bed and breakfast
On Thursday afternoon, Lodi Hill House Trustee Jane Lea welcomed guests to the grand reopening of the museum that, after being closed for remodeling for a year, will now also serve as a bed and breakfast.
“The tours are free, but we weren’t generating any income,” Lea said. “We decided turning it into a bed and breakfast would fit with Lodi becoming more and more of a tourist destination.”
For $300 a night, guests can rent a suite on the ground floor of the white two-story house with a bedroom, parlor and bathroom — all of which feature furniture that originally belonged to the Hill family — and experience what life was like when the house was built in the early 1900s.
The house was built in 1901 by the Cary Brothers — popular builders at the time — and was home to George Washington Hill, his wife Mary Lewis Hill, their two children Nellie and Maurice and Mary’s half-sister Daisy.
When Maurice Hill died in 1984, he left the house, its contents and $100,000 for its upkeep in a trust, which was used to turn it into the museum it serves as to this day.
The suite will be available Friday and Saturday nights, Lea said, and the Hill House will offer a special rate of $200 per night — with a two-night minimum — from November to February.
Lea said the Hill House will also be available as a venue for events such as family reunions, weddings and more, and they will still offer tours from 1 to 3 p.m. every Sunday except for holiday weekends.
Guests can even call ahead to arrange private tours on Sundays, Lea said.
“We hope this will generate income to keep the house going and keep improving,” Lea said. “Moving forward, this should be a place that people think of when they want to have an event.”
Miranda LaBecque and Cami Ferry, both actors from In Motion Theater Company, dressed as Mary and Nellie Hill, respectively, led guests on a tour of the suite before the guests made their way to the backyard to enjoy wine and appetizers as they listened to live jazz music by guitarist Travis Vega.
“This place is absolutely gorgeous,” Paul Anderson, Lodi Chamber of Commerce ambassador, said as he sipped a glass of wine. “When I heard they were opening up, I was very excited. Lodi needs more bed and breakfasts.”
With money gathered from renting the suite and hosting various events, Lea plans to finish restoring furniture in the upstairs bedrooms to rent to guests in the future, as well as roughly 180 of Maurice Hill’s paintings.
“That’s what Maurice wanted,” Lea said. “He wanted the house to be open to the public.”
After receiving their first dollar and a membership plaque from the Lodi Chamber of Commerce’s membership coordinator Marina Narvarte, Nancy Schmer, a Hill House trustee and Lea’s sister, prepared to cut the ceremonial ribbon for the Hill House’s grand reopening.
“We’ve been open to the public since 1991, and we’ve tried to showcase the Hill family’s love of Lodi and how life was lived when the house was built in 1901,” Schmer said. “We have our first booking this weekend, and we are so excited.”
Hill House trustee Nancy Shmer, center, cuts the ceremonial ribbon held by her sister Jane Lea, also a trustee and Lodi Chamber of Commerce ambassadors while Tracy Merritt, a Hill House Historical Society board member, holds their first dollar and Chamber membership plaque.
In Motion Theater Company actors Miranda LaBrecque, left, and Cami Ferry, right, dressed as Mary Hill and Nellie Hill respectively during the grand reopening of the Hill House Museum and Bed and Breakfast on Thursday evening.