Memory Lane Inn Offers Relaxing B&B For Favorite Hobbies
By CASEY MURPHY
Downs has been scrapbooking since she was 12 and a few years ago looked
for a place she and girlfriends could for a weekend to work on their
But she had a difficult time finding a decent place with nice amenities where they could go for a crafting retreat, she said.
and her husband of nine years, Jereme, graduated college with business
degrees and worked as IT consultants when they came up with the idea to
start Memory Lane Inn -- a bed and breakfast where women can come to
scrapbook, quilt, paint or do other crafts.
Downs, 35, of Prosper, opened her first bed and breakfast in McKinney
in 2008 in a rustic, country-style home that fits 12 women. Two years
ago, she added a second retreat in an historic home on Tyler's brick
Mrs. Down's parents, Jean
and Ed Nolen, a school bus driver, run the Tyler bed and breakfast,
which can house up to 18 women and can be rented out on the weekends.
Tyler house, at 505 S. Chilton Ave., was built in 1904 and has been
lived in by Sen. Earle B. Mayfield and Miss America Jo-Carroll Dennison,
Mrs. Nolen said Wednesday while giving a tour of the home.
was a lawyer and Democrat who served in the Texas and U.S. senates.
After leaving the U.S. Senate in 1929, he practiced law in Tyler and was
president of Mayfield Wholesale Grocery Co. He bought the house in 1942
and employed Ms. Dennison to clerk in his law firm and she reportedly
occupied one of the rooms at the home. Ms. Dennison was Miss Tyler, Miss
Texas and Miss America, and went on to become an actress, according to www.memorylaneinn.com
The house has also been used as a boarding house during the Depression, Mrs. Nolen said.
late Dr. Steve Riley and his wife Judy did a lot of the renovations to
the historic house and opened it as a bed and breakfast in 2003 before
Mrs. Downs bought it two years ago, she said.
inn can fit up to 18 guests. "They all get along well because they're
doing exactly what they want to be doing," Mrs. Nolen said.
patrons book a weekend -- from Friday through Sunday for $145 --
they get to stay Thursday for free. They can also add Wednesday to the
stay for $25 more, Mrs. Downs said.
Nolen will cook meals for the Tyler guests for an extra charge and
Memory Inn Lane can arrange for a massage therapist or a craft teacher
to come out to the inn.
isn't into crafts but enjoys cleaning and cooking for the guests. On
Wednesday, she was preparing to make lasagna, salad and homemade banana
pudding for guests on Thursday. Mrs. Nolen was a personal cook for a
woman in Temple for 10 years before she and her husband moved to Tyler
to run the bed and breakfast for their daughter.
Downs grew up in Desoto and runs the bed and breakfast in McKinney
while her husband works as an IT consultant. She said the McKinney
location is good for the inn because it sits in the country on one acre
surrounded by horses, but is only about five minutes from a large
crafting supply store and all the conveniences of a city.
Downs said people have been very receptive to the inn, which stays
booked about a year out and its business has been all from word of
mouth. "It makes us feel like we're doing something right," she said.
The McKinney inn has seen guests from Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas, and women as far away as California and Germany.
said they decided to open a second bed and breakfast in Tyler because
they loved the city and thought it would be a good fit for their
clientele. She said when they saw the house on Chilton, they fell in
love with it and knew they made the right decision. She said business in
Tyler started at a slow simmer but has begun to pick up, "going to a
Mrs. Nolen excitedly
pointed out the unique features of the Chilton house, including the wall
papered ceiling in the kitchen, two twin stain-glass doors reportedly
imported from England, a circus glass chandelier and a fire place made
of tiles with yellow roses in the dining room. There are five bedrooms
and a sixth is used as a TV room. The main room that once housed a
sitting parlor downstairs is where crafts are made.
bottom bedroom, named "First Ladies Quarters," and an upstairs bedroom,
called "Angel's Wings," offer murals on the ceiling painted by Theresa
Cheek. The other two bedrooms are named "Miss America's Boudoir" and
"Senator's Chambers" for the past residents.
Nolen said the house is filled with a lot of antique furniture and all
of the hardwood floors upstairs are original. Outside, guests can take
their breakfast in a sitting area or relax in the gazebo and enjoy the
"It's a beautiful home," she said. "It's been restored lovingly and we try to keep it in the same fashion."
Lane Inn provides guests some scrapbooking tools but a lot of women
bring their own crafting supplies. "I've seen a U-Haul back up into
here, literally," Mrs. Nolen said. "I'm always amazed."
said scrapbooking is an expensive hobby "but they love it and they have
fun." She said while scrapbooking, the women make beautiful photo
albums and she has seen ladies spend a whole weekend on one page.
Lane Inn in Tyler has had guests from as far away as Indiana, Oklahoma
and Louisiana but many come from the Dallas area and women in Tyler have
started coming for weekend retreats. Mrs. Nolen sees 70 to 80 people
stay at the Tyler house each month.