Finding something to do
The Cherry Creek Inn Bed and Breakfast is a treasure trove
CHERRY CREEK–An Italianate house constructed about 1860 by George N. Frost, an early settler in the Cherry Creek area, dominates the landscape on West Road in this rural town in Chautauqua County. Known as the Cherry Creek Inn Bed and Breakfast and owned by Sharon Howe Sweeting, the inn offers an opportunity for a restful getaway for those who visit Chautauqua County.
I met Howe Sweeting when covering the Holiday Tea at the McClurg Museum in Westfield, sponsored by the Chautauqua County Historical Society. A trustee of the society, she greeted those attending the tea and chatted with them until they were seated. I learned she had followed a snowplow into Westfield from her inn to help with the event. I checked out her website (www.cherrycreekinn.net) in order to verify the spelling of her name for the article I wrote.
From the site, I learned that in addition to offering lodging in the house, the property has a carriage house that accommodates meetings and gatherings. Howe Sweeting also offers three course English teas in the house. Tea menus and themes vary according to season. During February, the theme was Valentine teas.
When I called for a reservation, she asked for the number of guests. I told her the number was four, two of which would be male. “I’m surprised,” she said. “Men don’t usually enjoy tea.”
I am fortunate that both my husband and my nephew enjoy tea, both the beverage and the meal. Both men like to cook (and eat) and enjoy puzzling out the ingredients in a particular sandwich or dessert. The beverage known as tea can vary greatly in taste. Learning about different types of teas and what tea goes best with different foods is every bit as complicated as learning about different types of wine.
Sweeting Howe has a wooden tea chest containing a variety of Stash teas, in bag form. “I suggest selecting a different tea for each course,” she told us.
For the sandwich course, she suggested selecting from the green or green-white fusion types of tea located in the rows on the left side of the chest. The middle of the chest contained more robust teas for the scone course. The right side of the chest held the black teas which stand up well to the sweet desserts.
Four different types of sandwiches were on the menu, and perhaps worrying about the men in the party, Howe Sweeting provided an ample supply. Appropriately, the scones were cherry, served with Amish butter and a very nice local cherry preserve. The dessert course consisted of a half pear surrounded by pastry and topped with ice cream, cookies and a mint and chocolate confection.
Tea is not meant to be a hurried meal. Because the portions had been more than ample, we decided to accept the offer to take a break before dessert and walk through the premises. Treasures abound in the Cherry Creek Inn — an oriental painting of a cat, a variety of teaware, antique furniture, quilts, a collection of hats, a variety of chess sets, and many other items Howe Sweeting and her late husband, Lester Sweeting, picked up during careers that included foreign travel. The couple lived together in England for about four years. Sweeting worked for the IRS in London, while Sweeting Howe worked for United States ambassador Charles H. Price. Sweeting’s later jobs afforded him opportunities to live in or visit places including Moldova, Latvia, Indonesia, Egypt, Macedonia and Jordan. The Sweetings owned a historically significant Victorian House, the Louis Holden House, in Hyattsville, Maryland from 1981-2005, when they moved to the Cherry Creek Inn.
After tea, we were treated to a tour of the Carriage House which can serve as a venue for events or meetings. The original building was lost in a fire in 1949. The replacement looks similar to the original on the outside, but has a modern kitchen and bathrooms. It is reinforced to hold a library of 3,500 volumes and a sitting room upstairs.
Howe Sweeting recalled that when she and her husband were packing to move to Cherry Creek, he thought they could eliminate some of the books. “He picked out 10 books and I put back six,” she said.
“He said, ‘I guess we are going to have to move the books.'” Both Sweetings loved books. Howe Sweeting has a master’s degree in library science and worked at the Smithsonian for many years. Still an avid reader, she had just read “The General vs. the President” by H.W. Brands which concerns the firing of General McArthur by President Harry Truman. She recommended it.
The upstairs of the carriage house contains many other curiosities, including a large reproduction of King Tut’s mummy case and a doll-like version of Sherlock Holmes. An antique Portland cutter sleigh houses a sound system and there is even a small teddy bear tea party at the corner of one of the shelving units. Christmas decorations still abounded. “I’ve had a hard time putting away Christmas this year,” she explained.
Both my husband and nephew found her explanation of the application of the bead board in the upstairs area, one length at a time, interesting. (So much for the notion that men have to be bored going to tea.) The resulting interior is quite beautiful.
We had a wonderful day beginning and ending with a drive through a rural area that looked like a Currier & Ives print. We’ll definitely put this on our list for out-of-town visitors and return ourselves when we want to do something special.