Checking in: McClaine House revitalized as bed and breakfast

February 2018 Posted in Community, Travel
Karen Choules McClaine House

Karen Choules looks forward to new guests at The McClaine House. Nancy Jennings

By Nancy Jennings

Karen Choules is a “homebody” who loves decorating, painting furniture, cooking and gardening. These qualities suit her well as the new owner/innkeeper at Silverton’s The McClaine House, which opened last year during Memorial Day weekend.

The stately two-story historical landmark was originally built in 1878 by namesake Jake McClaine and his wife, Sophronia. Now, the refurbished cream-colored house with bright blue trim, has accommodated guests from near and far.

“I had a couple from China stay last year during the eclipse,” Karen said. Included in the 3,000 sq. ft. house are two master suites: “The Terrace” (downstairs) and “The Falls” (upstairs).

Each suite has its own full bath, a coffee station and a wall-mounted Smart TV. Homemade breakfasts, including poached eggs over risotto, are served each morning – along with fresh fruit. Gluten-free or dietary restrictions can be accommodated.

The inn also serves as an indoor/outdoor venue for small weddings and elopements. An ornate gazebo in the backyard provides a romantic backdrop.

Before moving to Silverton in December 2016, Karen, 59, owned and managed “The Carlton Inn B&B” for five years in Carlton, Oregon.

One weekday in April 2016, she and her boyfriend, Andrew Halls, took a leisurely drive to Silverton. Browsing through downtown led to the Victorian house set off by a white picket fence. It was for sale.

Suddenly, Karen’s future plans became clear. “I really wasn’t looking to move, but the town was so charming with the little creek running through it,” she said.

Once the paperwork was finished, the physical work of refurbishing began.

“It took about six months. Inside, the ceilings are 11 feet high. It took about six weeks to scrape off all the old wallpaper in the living room and do repairs. There were probably about six or seven layers. We had to paint outside during the summer.”

Karen has two grown daughters, Theresa and Jessica, and two grandchildren, Cameron and Reese. They all live in Southern California.

The Carlton Inn gave her a few memorable snippets from past guests. No two were ever alike.

There was the pair who booked every year with one goal. “This couple would stay in their room for six hours just talking to each other. It was like a board meeting for their marriage. They would stay for two full days. They’ve been together for a long time,” she smiled.

The “girlfriend groups” were fun. One bunch kept her up with them playing cards and drinking wine until 1 a.m.

Then there was the group of cyclists who came every year taking wine tasting tours. “We became great friends. My slogan ‘Arrive as a Guest, Depart as a Friend’ was created there.”

When able to spend time together away from their businesses (Andrew owns Pacific Hazelnut Candy Factory in nearby Aurora), they enjoy taking their own wine tasting excursions.

“We got very familiar with the wineries in the Carlton area,” she said, adding they have now found new local favorites.

Plans may include hosting occasional wine tasting socials, and tea parties for guests ages 12+.

Karen’s youngest daughter and son-in-law visited in October. She told her mother, “Carlton was nice, but, wow, this has so much more to offer.”

The McClaine House: 216 W. Main St., Silverton. 503-874-1878

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