The Great Tree Inn featured at Westfield-Mayville Rotary meeting

Photo by Sue Hammond Rotarian Sheila Chapman (left) welcomed guest presenter Mark Dowhy (right), co-owner of The Great Tree Inn bed and breakfast in Mayville, to the Jan. 15 meeting of the Rotary Club of Westfield-Mayville at The Parkview in Westfield. Dowhy offered interesting insights about the inn's features and history.

Mark Dowhy, co-owner of The Great Tree Inn bed and breakfast in Mayville, was the guest presenter at the Jan. 15 meeting of the Westfield-Mayville Rotary Club. Members and guests who were present at this session, which was held at The Parkview in Westfield, learned about the history of The Great Tree Inn, the facility and what being an innkeeper is like. Dowhy’s program was sponsored by Rotarian Sheila Chapman.

The Great Tree Inn is located at 6642 E. Lake Road (Route 430) in Mayville, “half-way to Hartfield from the red light in downtown Mayville.” Dowhy and his wife and co-owner Sheila Dowhy purchased The Great Tree Inn seven years ago. Neither had formal experience with running a bed and breakfast. Mark Dowhy said, “After 30 years in pediatric critical care medicine and research, I was looking for a career change. The house was a bed and breakfast before we purchased it, and it was in good shape. We just gave it a little TLC.”

The inn, a farmhouse that dates back to 1850, has seven themed rooms. Sheila Dowhy worked with the existing wallpaper and decorated the rooms, which are named English Ivy, Victorian Violet, Seventh Heaven, Country Folk, Queen Bee, Tuscan Room and Blue Room. All rooms feature fireplaces, air conditioning, full private baths and more. Mark Dowhy noted, “In the early 1900’s the first bathroom was installed in the house. In the 1990’s the owners added a bathroom to each of the rooms, and they turned the house into a bed and breakfast.

In addition to the bedrooms, there are also two large living rooms, as well as a dining room that was once an enclosed porch. The property also has separate owners’ quarters and a farm, complete with Belgian horses, ducks and chickens, pigs, goats and a donkey. Dowhy said, “We don’t do subsistence farming, though we do use our own eggs, bacon and sausage, as well as our own rendered lard, in the foods we prepare. Also, we use locally sourced items. I love to cook and also bake pastries. I think it’s the experimental science geek in me. We serve a nice, hearty country breakfast, and what’s not eaten, we recycle to our animals.”

Dowhy said that as innkeepers he and his wife have been fortunate to meet people “from all over our country and around our world, who are from many different walks of life, with various careers and endeavors.” He noted one of the challenges is having consistent room bookings during the winter months. Reservations are strong during the summer months, and also in the fall, when there are many events related to the local grape harvest, wines and fall foliage. The inn is near Chautauqua Institution and many area attractions. The Dowhys are in the process of acquiring another 12 acres near their current 10-acre property, which is next to hiking and snowmobile trails.

Regarding the history of the inn, Dowhy said that William T. Howe bought the property sight unseen in 1816 as part of the Holland Land Purchase. He stated, “I don’t know how anyone could buy land without seeing it. Plus, in the summer of 1816, there was no summer. It snowed! The Howes had to quickly clear the land and build a structure to protect themselves from the elements. Our house, which is next to the inn, dates back to 1820.” He noted that the house remained with various Howe family members “until the early 1900’s, when A.B. Sweatland became the owner and turned the property into a working Guernsey dairy farm. Then Milton Beck bought the house in the 1930’s. The Great Tree Inn gets its name from a very large black locust tree that is right next to the porch, and which is probably holding the house up.”

To arrange to see the tree, meet the Dowhy’s, learn more about the history of the property, tour the inn and perhaps reserve a room for a relaxing get-away, email innkeeper@greattreeinn.com, call 753-7989 or 800-421-0082, or check Facebook or Trip Advisor.

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