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The Kansan - Newton, KS
A blog that strives to be firmly rooted in the Great Plains but often rambles and wanders across the map of topics.
Henderson Inn and Retreat Center: a hidden treasure in Stafford
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By Brandon Case
Brandon Case has spent the majority of his life living near the 99th Meridian, an imaginary line used for mapping purposes that circles the earth and runs through the North and South Poles.
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By Brandon Case
Aug. 6, 2013 12:46 p.m.



If you’re looking for a weekend getaway near the 99th Meridian, the Henderson House Bed and Breakfast in Stafford—or its sister homes, the Littlefield, Spickard, and Weide—may be just what you are seeking.

My wife and I recently spent an evening at the Spickard House participating in a murder-mystery dinner, “A Taste of Wine and Murder,” with our daughter, her husband, and a couple from Stafford. It was her birthday present to us. Clare Moore, who is the mastermind behind the Henderson Inn and Retreat Center, describes the murder-mystery dinners as being like a “live game of Clue.”

Besides murder-mystery dinners, the inn and retreat center offer meeting and lodging space for scrapbooking, quilting, church group and staff retreats, business conferences, family reunions, and other special occasions. The facilities, including four houses and a church with an adjacent pavilion (which Clare built in 2005), all stand within a block of each other--on Green Street in Stafford.  

How this all came to be is quite a story. Clare Moore grew up northwest of Preston, between Stafford and Pratt. He frequently visited his grandparents in Stafford as a young boy and became enchanted with some of the large homes he saw there. In 1978, he had the opportunity to purchase one of those large homes, his great-grandmother Henderson’s home. After devoting much time and resources to restoring the home, he opened the Henderson House as a bed and breakfast in 1990. He purchased and restored two other nearby houses (the Littlefield and Spickard) and opened these as bed and breakfasts after renovating them, purchasing a church in the same neighborhood which provided ample room for meetings.

The last house Clare added to the collection was the Weide House, which was in such poor condition that the owners accepted $500 for its purchase. Clare said that he soon located in Ellinwood the original banister stairwell for the house, which had been sold along with numerous other furnishings. He actually paid more for this stairwell than he did for the purchase of the home.

All together, the five homes offer 18 rooms with private baths. Rates for rooms vary and can be found at http://www.hendersonbandb.com/

 

Clare added the murder mystery dinners in 2010, as a way to get more people to visit the homes. Besides the Napa Valley theme, other murder-mystery dinner themes include the Wild West and Hawaii. The dinners generally require at least three couples but can be enlarged to include more persons.

Sometimes you don’t realize what hidden treasures lie within small towns along the 99th Meridian. Clare Moore took several diamonds in the rough in Stafford and polished them into a fine collection of historic homes open to the public. All it took was a vision of what could be--and a lot of hard work and financial investment.

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