By Beth Clark
Prairie Guest House, a Gothic Revival style brick farmhouse at 13805 Allisonville Rd., opened its doors to the public just over a year and a half ago as Fishers’ only Bed and Breakfast establishment. Owners John and Karen Newton reflected on their first year of business and are very pleased with the fruits of their labor: a bustling tourist season with every room booked most weekends.
“Business has been terrific this summer,” John said. “Very busy.”
And it is no wonder. The Prairie Guest House provides a peaceful, rural retreat with the conveniences of suburbia, perfectly situated to take advantage of all the cultural offerings of Fishers, Carmel and Noblesville. Not to mention it is just a stone’s throw away from the action at Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, with events like the popular Symphony on the Prairie.
The Prairie Guest House enjoys a beneficial cross-marketing relationship with Conner Prairie as well as a shared connection with local history.
According to the limited historical information John and Karen received when they purchased the property, their Guest House was built in 1870. A map of Delaware Township from 1880 documents the house on land owned by one F.M. Finch, likely the initials of Fabius Maximus Finch, son of one of the earliest settler families in the state, a brother-in-law of William Conner and a well-known Circuit Judge for Marion, Johnson and Hendricks counties.
F.M. Finch’s primary residences were in Franklin and Indianapolis, and he had additional land holdings in Marion County. His use for the property along what is now Allisonville Road remains speculative. That the house was constructed of brick, a more expensive material than wood, indicates it was the home for, or commissioned by, a prominent citizen.
The house changed hands several times after Finch no longer owned the property. It is known that the house was part of a working farm for many years, including a horse farm of over 20 acres during the 1920s.
The buildings on John and Karen’s property, whittled down now to two acres, include a large barn, well house, the brick Guest House with an addition that was constructed in the 1980s, and a 1907 clapboard cottage moved onto the property by the previous owners that serves as the main office and dining room for guests.
In addition to the antique furniture inside the Guest House that came with the purchase of the property, John and Karen intend to stay true to its farming history. They plan to expand their gardens that already supply the rooms with fresh cut flowers and the table with vegetables and herbs to become even more self-sufficient, providing guests with a true “farm to table” dining experience.
More information on the Prairie Guest House can be found at www.prairieguesthouse.com.