Sleeping in Gainesville: The Laurel Oak Inn

Laurel Oak Inn, Gainesville, FL

Laurel Oak Inn, Gainesville, FL

Now don’t get us wrong here.  We stay in plenty of chain hotels and appreciate their standardized accommodations.  But when we have leisure time the morning after a stay, we look for bed-and-breakfast inns where the owners are friendly and open, the breakfast is something we’d love to post on Pinterest, and the rooms are decorated with personal touches.

Laurel Oak Inn, Gainesville, FL

And that’s what we found at the Laurel Oak Inn in Gainesville, Florida.  It’s in good company, too.  The Southeast Historic District, comprised of a number of stately old homes just a short walk from downtown, supports at least three other B & Bs. They stand proudly and beautifully preserved on sidewalk-lined streets shaded by mature, mossy trees.

Side porch, Laurel Oak Inn

Side porch, Laurel Oak Inn

Constructed in 1885 by William Lassiter and his second wife Fanny, the Lassiter House (as it was originally called) has endured much over the years:  a conversion to two apartments in the 20’s, the elimination of the kitchen to add an extra bedroom, the addition of a two-story sleeping porch, the division into four apartments in 1938, deterioration in the ’50s and ’60s, and eventually being condemned in 1979.  Butch and Joyce Redstone purchased the home in the early 1990s and stabilized the structure, but it was not until Monta and Peggy Burt bought the house in 1999 did it have a chance at being revitalized to the structure you see today — a charming, welcoming inn that opened to the public in November of 2001.

Maintaining the integrity of the home, the Burts furnished the parlor in keeping with its original intent. We admired original woodwork on the working fireplace and gleaming wood floors.

Parlor -- Laurel Oak Inn

Parlor — Laurel Oak Inn

We suspect, however, that most people who stay at The Laurel Oak Inn enjoy sitting in this area adjacent to the lively, open kitchen.

Sitting Area facing the kitchen

Sitting Area facing the kitchen

The Lilac Room was our choice for the night with its pleasant colors and unique bed made of re-purposed wood.  Fortunately, it was available.

Lilac Room, Laurel Oak Inn

Lilac Room, Laurel Oak Inn

A retrofitted bathroom offered modern conveniences, and luxurious bathrobes were ours for the stay.

Bathroom adjoining Lilac Room with spa-like robes on the door

Bathroom adjoining Lilac Room with spa-like robes on the door

But what really sold us on this room was the adjoining porch overlooking the historic district and offering soft breezes to enjoy in the evening or morning hours.

Side porch for Lilac Room guests

Side porch for Lilac Room guests

Monta’s unsolicited tour of the inn highlighted the addition of an extra bedroom with “found” carved doors on the main floor and the painstakingly reconstructed stairway to the second floor. We posed: What’s that in the corners of the stair steps? And Monta replied: They’re little pieces of metal to keep dust from collecting in the hard-to-reach corners!  (You can learn a lot, staying in a B&B!)

Stair details -- keeping the dust out of corners!

Stair details — keeping the dust out of corners!

Since Peggy had left for her teaching job even before we’d had our first cup of coffee, Monta took over the breakfast duties — talking, baking, serving.

Monta prepares the breakfast in the open kitchen, accessible to guests and owners

Monta prepares the breakfast in the open kitchen, accessible to guests and owners

And what a breakfast it was!  Fresh fruit, artfully arranged, greeted us at the table . . .

First course:  fresh grapefruit slices and blueberries

First course: fresh grapefruit slices and blueberries

followed by Denver Strata (eggs, roasted red peppers, provolone cheese, green chiles, and ham) and a side of bacon.

Denver Strata served at Laurel Oak Inn

Denver Strata served at Laurel Oak Inn

Throughout the inn, you’ll find little touches in the nooks and corners.  Like this basket of crochet thread and sock darners at the base of an old Singer sewing machine in the Lilac Room.

Collection of crochet thread and sock darners fill a basket in the Lilac Room

Collection of crochet thread and sock darners fill a basket in the Lilac Room

Or this remnant of a crazy quilt hanging in the kitchen.

Framed remnant of a crazy quilt

Framed remnant of a crazy quilt

A stay at the Laurel Oak Inn will give you a sense of history and beauty — in the decor, the detailed renovations, and the personal touches that add life and interest to the rooms.

But you mainly want to stay there to meet the Burts — they’ll recommend restaurants in the area, give you the history of the inn, and make you feel as if you have settled in for what you do NOT want to miss:  real Southern comfort!

Framed quote displayed at the Laurel Oak Inn

Framed quote displayed at the Laurel Oak Inn

The Laurel Oak Inn

221 Southeast Seventh Street

Gainesville, FL 32601

352.373.4535

Monta and Peggy Burt, Innkeepers

Websitehttp://www.laureloakinn.com/

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Laurel-Oak-Inn/108790461381

Trip Advisor, Ranked Number 1 B&B in Gainesville: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g34242-d296633-Reviews-The_Laurel_Oak_Inn-Gainesville_Florida.html

About Oh, the Places We See

Met at University of Tennessee, been married for 47 years, and still passionate about travel whether we're volunteering with Habitat Global Village, combining work at Discovery with pleasure, or just seeing the world. Hope you'll join us as we try to see it all while we can!
This entry was posted in Bed & Breakfast Inns, Florida, Stay the Night, Travel and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Sleeping in Gainesville: The Laurel Oak Inn

  1. Kevin Brent says:

    Very nice!!

  2. Sherry Galey says:

    I love posts like this!

    • Rusha Sams says:

      Oh, thanks!!! We love to stay in B&B’s mostly to meet the owners and the other folks. But we just can’t always have a leisurely stay like that. Hope you’ve seen some of my others. Thanks for reading!

  3. This looks like a great place Rusha. We’ll have to do a drive-by on our next trip to FL to visit family. And just when you think you’ve seen it all. I love the stairway dust-bunny preventers. What a wonderful and effective detail. ~James

  4. freebutfun says:

    What a lovely place!

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