Halsey House Bed and Breakfast
Table Of Contents
The Halsey House Bed & Breakfast, built in 1829 by Nicholl Halsey, is a Federal style farmhouse located Trumansburg in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. Noted for stunning scenery, expansive lakes, gorges, waterfalls and scenic wine trails, there is always something to do and see.
The house is rich with history and retains its original wide-planked floors, flame-grained doors, wonderful moldings, and windows. High ceilings and numerous large windows give a bright spacious atmosphere. The first floor in the main part of the house has a game room/library, a main parlor and a dining room, all for guest's use. Our largest, most luxurious guestroom is also on the first floor and is perfect for guests who prefer to avoid stairs. The remaining four guestrooms are located on the second floor adjacent to a wonderful sunlit sitting area perfect for reading and relaxing.
A two-mile hike or drive brings you to Taughannock Falls, the highest waterfall east of the Rockies. Two more miles east and you are standing on the shore of Cayuga Lake. Stretching 40 miles and 435 feet deep it is the largest of the Finger Lakes. The many activities on the lake include boating, skiing, fishing, swimming, sailing and jet skiing. Land activities include the Cayuga Wine Trail, bicycle tours, hiking trails, three nearby golf courses and 12 parks within a 20-mile radius. Due to the abundance of natural areas, most remain uncrowded even on the busiest of holiday weekends.
Ithaca, home to Cornell University and Ithaca College, is twelve minutes south. There you will find numerous restaurants, shops, parks, waterfalls, trails, museums, and the Hangar Theatre. Watkins Glen and the Corning Glass Works are nearby. Niagara Falls makes a wonderful day trip.
Travelers are always looking for memorable and relaxing experiences. Let’s discover more through the words of our innkeepers. Many thanks to David Wren and David Blake for sharing their own secrets with BBOnline.com! Why do most travelers stay at your inn?
Our guests, for the most part, come to Halsey House to find a few days of solace away from the rat race; to get reacquainted with one another and enjoy life away from smart phones, computers and other distractions. They seek the quite countryside, the comfortable rooms, the wines from the local vineyards and the opportunity to hold hands as they walk down the streets as they remember less hectic times.
What are you best known for? What makes your inn unique? What do you love most about your inn?
Halsey House is known for its comfortable beds with pillow top mattresses, the warm inviting rooms, the delightful breakfasts, the unexpected and unusual afternoon sweets and most of all for the attention to detail, the cleanliness and the top-shelf, gracious hospitality. Halsey House was built in 1829, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and it has been completely restored without any change to the original footprint. Our guests marvel at the architecture, the original wide-plank floors, the moldings, and the staircase. They enjoy sitting on our beautiful porch as much as we do.
If someone has never been to your city, what is the #1 reason to come visit?
Outdoor wonders: Gorges, waterfalls, lakes, vineyards. There are too many reasons to list just one.
What’s the best compliment you have ever received about the inn?
A guest reviewed us on TripAdvisor and said that Halsey House was "the Waldorf of the Finger Lakes."
What’s the best kept secret about the area?
A delightful restaurant called Hazelnut Kitchen (although it won't be a secret much longer). Also, visitors are surprised to learn that long before Hollywood, the first movies were made here. The earliest silent films were all shot in Tompkins County in and around Ithaca due to the scenic countryside.
If a traveler is staying at your inn for 4 nights, what should he/she do in the area?
Visitors would take in the wine trails, the creameries, cheese/dairy farms, distilleries, hike in Smith Woods which is adjacent to Halsey House, or hike in the trails of the local State Parks. Visitors would take in the beauty of Taughannock Falls, which is only 1.5 miles from Halsey House, and the other waterfalls in the area. Bike, walk, or travel by car along the side of Cayuga Lake, travel up to Aurora to shop at MacKenzie-Childs, dine in Ithaca or find a hidden treasure in one of the eclectic shops. And certainly tour the Cornell University campus' plantation and arboretum.
Is there anything within walking distance of your inn?
Taughannock Falls Overlook is 1.5 miles from Halsey House. Smith Woods is less than 1 mile. If guests are here during GrassRoots Festival in July, it is only 1/2 mile from Halsey House.
What is your favorite restaurant/food in the area?
The Finger Lakes is an area with abundant restaurants and those we enjoy and recommend to our guests, are those that rely upon and support local farms and dairies. It is truly impossible to choose one above the other as they are all so uniquely different but a favorite is decidedly nearby Hazelnut Kitchen in Trumansburg.
Any good area guides/websites that travelers could reference? How many rooms does your inn have?
Do you accept pets?
No, we are unable to accept pets.
Meet The Innkeepers
David Blake and I believe ourselves to be the most unlikely of innkeepers. It was never our dream to own a bed and breakfast, and if anyone had suggested it to us even as recently as 2008, we would have laughed at the idea.
Nonetheless, we have always been described by our friends as consummate hosts. We always strive to give a great party. We love to entertain and have frequently done so during our life together which began in 1994.
I am originally from Dallas and David Blake is from the Main Line outside of Philadelphia, but our upbringings were vastly similar in ways other than our both being named David. At our homes, the welcome mat was always out, the kettle on the stove was never far from a whistle, there was always an extra place at the dinner table, and there were fresh, crisp sheets at the ready on any guestroom bed. That way of life, a perpetual state of entertaining, is in our DNA.
So when Dave decided, after 40 years as an attorney in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, to call it quits and looked to a big, new adventure, it was our friends, one and all, who suggested we contemplate ideas related to the entertaining that they had come to think we did so well.
We wanted to combine our talents with a lifestyle and investigated different venues. We briefly considered the idea of a restaurant. We knew that we wanted to consolidate our lives, live above the store, somewhere away from the maddening crush of the city, pursuing something we would find manageable, and be substantially in control of our own success.
Dave Blake is an inspired cook who loves the culinary arts. I, on the other hand, enjoy socializing and making guests comfortable. Together we are a great team. It was a process of elimination that finally gave us the idea of a B&B.
That’s when a three- year search began. We knew we wanted to be on the East Coast, so we scoured the countryside from mid-coast Maine to the southernmost point of North Carolina. We visited the best and the worst of inns for sale which gave us an appreciation for what works, and what doesn’t work in a bed and breakfast. Just at the time when we were wondering if we would ever come to find the suitable home and business, someone suggested that we visit the Finger Lakes in upstate New York.
We’d been to Ithaca several times during the years that Dave’s son was attending Ithaca College, but never really had an opportunity to enjoy the area. Just quick trips up for school functions and then back to Philadelphia.
It was love at first sight when we drove through Trumansburg. And when we stepped through the door at Halsey House the first time, we knew we were home.
We welcomed our first guests on Thursday, June 6, 2013. I met them in the car park in the pouring rain to assist in bringing in their luggage. They were a charming couple from Canada whose children had reserved time for them at Halsey House to celebrate their wedding anniversary.
Dave stood in the threshold to greet us. By the time we reached the porch, they were no longer strangers. Dave and I knew we’d made the right decision to take this turn in the road. Our intermission was over. Act III in our lives had begun.
David Nelson Wren