Dwell in Victorian Opulence at the Claremont House

"Southern hospitality awaits guests in an irresistible getaway from today's hectic pace. We pride ourselves in creating such an environment." --Jeff and Linda Williams

A macrocosm of a little girl's dream doll house, an architect's delight, and a revitalizing haven for travelers, Claremont House Bed & Breakfast aptly rests upon a hill. I devour her exterior beauty the moment I spot her. Her exquisite interior consumes me the minute I step inside.

The Claremont House, located in Rome, Georgia, at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, is an hour's drive from Atlanta or Chattanooga. It exhibits the finest example of Victorian Gothic architecture in Georgia.

The edifice was built by Colonel Hamilton Yancey in 1882. The "Col-onel," a wealthy cotton farmer, and his wife had seven children. For two-and-a-half years, while their home was un-construction, the family lived in the small house seen behind the main house today. Once completed, Mrs. Yancey named her family's new home in honor of her favorite cousin, Clare de Graffenried. Three generations of the Yancey family lived in the house until it was sold, at an auction, in the early 1960's.

One of the first things noted about the 8,000 square foot Second Empire Gothic Victorian mansion is the exterior's ornate gingerbread trim. This type of trim wasn't used in the South when the house was built. The style was introduced by northern carpenters to replicate houses built by them in the North.

In 1993, The Claremont House became a bed and breakfast inn. Four years later, Linda and Jeff Williams purchased the inn and have served as resident innkeepers since that time. Linda and Jeff demonstrate a rare down-to-earth friendliness in an atmosphere where opulence reigns.

Once a business traveler stays at The Claremont House, he has difficulty settling for less in the future. In addition to availability of corporate rates (Sunday through Thursday), other business conveniences include: an early breakfast, a working desk, fax access, an in-room telephone, and flexible check-in times. The Williamses offer early morning coffee, daily, for at-dawn rising guests.

Each of the six spacious guest rooms includes a private bath, cable TV, a fireplace, and a telephone. The rooms are tastefully appointed in period antiques. I especially favor The Magnolia Room which features a four poster king-sized bed, an antique dresser, a desk, and an illuminated ceiling fan. Steps lead to the bed. The oversized, designer-decorated bathroom includes an original skylight, above the tub, as well as the bathroom's first marble top lavatory.

Guests at The Claremont House delight in a sumptuous breakfast served in the formal dining room. During my visit, breakfast consists of chopped cantaloupe with strawberry yogurt, eggs Benedict, sausage links, banana bread, juice, and coffee. On Friday and Saturday evenings, guests are offered a complimentary glass of champagne.

The Yanceys spared nothing equipping their home with the ultimate in everything. Visitors still admire the decorative use of the finest finishing woods available in the doors, moldings, parquet floors, built-in sideboards and bookcases. Neither did they hesitate to add unique features to their home: a massive antique safe, framed with walnut molding and trimmed with ornate metal detail, built into the home's stairwell; an antique urinal (discreetly installed into the wall, the front of the urinal is silver); a stage for their children's at-home productions.

From the wine cellar to the attic, The Claremont House presents a manifestation of a true treasure trove. From the beginning of one's visit to the end, attempting to absorb all of its wonders presents a challenge--an invigorating one fondly remembered.

NOTE: Reviewed by Maxine Pinson in the Summer 1998 issue of The INNside Scoop.


INN: The Claremont House; LOCATION: 906 E. Second Ave.; Rome, GA (near Atlanta); TEL: 1-800-254-4797 (reservations); FAX: 706-802-0551; E-mail: clarhouse@aol.com; ACCOMMODATIONS: 5 guest rooms w/private baths; BREAKFAST: Full gourmet; PARKING: Off-street; RATES: $80-$100; CREDIT CARDS: All major; RECOMMENDED RESTAURANTS: The Country Gentleman (295-0205); SPECIAL RECOGNITION: Listed on The Historical Register; SMOKING: Restricted; PUBLICATIONS: Atlanta Magazine, Georgia Journal, NW Georgia Journal; WEB SITE: www.bbonline.com/ga/claremont

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