WALLINGFORD — Guests are transported to a different era when they visit the Wallingford Victorian Inn, with its large front porch and suites named after the family that built the house almost 130 years ago.
This time of year the inn, owned by Karl and Sharlene Kieslich, is decked out with multiple Christmas trees and an old-fashioned Santa figurine in the window of the library room.
The Record-Journal recently sat down by the fireplace with 25-year old Kenni Ball to talk about her job as the innkeeper.
Q: What does an innkeeper do?
Ball: My responsibilities here are basically to keep the day to day operations going. So whether it’s answering the phone, or checking guests in, checking guests out, making breakfast in the morning, keeping the laundry going, cleaning all the rooms – basically kind of your everyday household chores of maintaining the house. The biggest part is interacting with the guests and welcoming them.
Q: How long have you been working here?
Ball: I’ve been here a little over two years now, and I moved down here from upstate New York to take the position.
Q: What is your background in this type of work?
Ball: Believe it or not I started in B and Bs (bed and breakfasts) when I was 13 years old. I was super young and I knew a woman who I kind of bartered with to be able to clean rooms and then she would give me rides. I just kind of picked it up and stuck with it. It’s always been something that I have enjoyed doing.
Q: Is there a difference between inns and bed and breakfast places?
Ball: So an inn technically should be someplace that has a restaurant downstairs. We get away with being an inn because we are only two blocks from the center of town. We’re walkable distance to restaurants.
Q: What is your daily schedule like here?
Ball: Breakfast is usually served at 9 a.m., we do fluctuate with times. So everybody comes downstairs into the main dining room. It’s a plated breakfast so it’s not a buffet style. Check out is normally at 11 a.m., so we kind of chit chat with everybody. Then we get everybody situated and checked out and then I go upstairs to clean the rooms and flip it over and then check in is at 3 p.m.
During check-in times we offer a social hour, so we do cheese and crackers and wine.
Q: What is the history of this inn?
Ball: It was built in 1891 and it was built for a woman named Georgianna as a wedding present. Their big tie in town was the Taber & Tibbits (silversmiths) and they actually were the ones that donated the land for the public library as well and that’s why the house was built here because originally her parents’ home was across the street here.
It has lived multiple lives in between all of that. It got sold off in the early ’60s to a gentleman and a lot of people in town who have lived here for a long time remember it as a doctor’s office...until the early 2000s and then it went through a couple different people until these owners bought it in 2013.
Q: When is your busiest time?
Ball: Weekends are definitely the busiest for us. As far as season wise, probably the busiest for us around here is May because of graduations because of where we are located. Then October is another crazy month just because of the fact we are that fall foliage, quaint little New England town everyone wants to visit.
Q: Where do most of your guests come from?
Ball: We have Choate, Yale, Quinnipiac, Wesleyan, all those different schools around us and they’re usually here for four years so a lot of times they’ll (students and their families) come in as freshmen and we get to meet them and then we see them for the next four years. Sometimes they’ll turn into alumni and they’ll want to come back for alumni weekends and we end up seeing them for those different things when they’re no longer students.
Q: Are there still aspects of the original house?
Ball: The dining room is all still original, all the windows and all the stained glass are all still original. Obviously we’ve made our modifications for us as far as being able to rearrange the rooms and having it make sense for what we were set up for.
Q: What’s your favorite room in the house?
Ball: It fluctuates between the Georgianna Suite and the Charles Suite. The Georgianna is great in the wintertime because it’s tucked in the turret part of the house so you can see if it’s snowing out, just the windows and how pretty that is. Then the Charles room in the summertime because it has a balcony off of it.
Q: What makes you really love what you do?
Ball: I think it’s definitely the people. For me, I just find it so cool to meet people from all over the world and just have that opportunity. Where we are located here, I get so many different types of people. You never really know who’s walking through your door either.
I always say it’s about the memories and creating memories for people, that’s really what makes me love my job.
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