Bed and breakfast reopens doors

Jessica SarterBoeFly In The News

Isobel McGowen

By Jennifer Hall St. Joseph News-Press

Purchasing a historic home on Hall Street was the result of a whimsical road trip for Isobel McGowen. Turning the 19th century mansion into a business, however, was a product of her ambition.

The Colorado native had accompanied a friend, and business partner, to St. Joseph to check out another classic mansion, the Kennedy House on Museum Hill. Ms. McGowen quickly became fascinated with the town’s rich history and architecture.

Fast forward a decade later and she decided to put in an offer on one particular home that suited her.

“I couldn’t believe the architecture and the amazing stuff up here,” she said.

“It was selling at such an unbelievable low price compared to Denver real estate,” she said. “It was this terrific lure, that I could get a property like this for that kind of money.”

The property at 809 Hall St. had seen a lot since Nathan Ogden built the mansion in 1885. It went from family home to rental property, once catering to 13 apartment units. But the building had one promising feature for Ms. McGowen — it was previously used for a bed and breakfast. In fact, it had been that very thing just 10 years before, from 1995 to 2002.

Ms. McGowen closed the deal in May 2012, thanks, she said to her bankers and city inspectors.

“It was Mr. Royce Balak with Commerce Bank who loaned me the bridge loan to get into the property before their SBA funds were secured,” she said. “Without his help we would not have been able to do the initial purchase of the building.”

She used Boefly as a way to “court” her would-be business and lenders. After an abstract business proposal is put out on the Web, interested lenders can begin a relationship. Luckily for Ms. McGowen, a lender with Midwest Community Bank in Plainville, Kan., reached out to her in a matter of days.

“I would buy another home on Hall Street right now if I could,” she said. “I have no intention of failing at this business. My success will not go unnoticed here on Hall Street in St. Joe.”

The innkeeper hopes that her achievements might encourage others to invest in historic properties, maybe on Historic Hall Street.

“The amazing bargain that real estate is today is not going to last forever,” Ms. McGowen said.

It was easy to recognize the beauty that has become the Shakespeare Chateau Inn & Gardens. The Chateau boasts 47 original artisan-crafted stained glass windows, the most of any home in St. Joseph. There is a fireplace in nearly every room, many original wall coverings and intricate ceiling decor. Ms. McGowen has spent the last 10 months bringing the mansion back to the treasure she believes it is to the community.

“It’s a fallacy for someone to think that they can just come in and live here,” she said. “It’s not like that. What makes a lot more sense is to come into a building like this and have a vision of how that building can earn its own keep.”

The home offers a variety of services, from overnight stays in three Shakespearean-themed rooms or used for events, meetings and about any other function. For more information, call (816) 232-2667 or

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