Every now and then in life, you find a place, or meet a person, that stays with you, no matter how short the contact.
I previously wrote about my 2020 visit to the Garth Woodside Mansion, but after learning of the passing of its co-owner, Julie, I wanted to revisit, at least figuratively, this incredible home.
Hannibal is a city (in the broad US sense of the word, although it really is more of a town) in Missouri on the Mississippi River, most famously the birthplace of Mark Twain and the home of his most well-known characters, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.
I read those books as a child, and for a long time, held them in my mind as an example of real America. The mighty Mississippi, that stretch of blue adventure, steamboats, flatbed rafts, and childhood dreams, and a gateway to the rest of the country.
The Garth Woodside Mansion is the perfect example of southern history and charm. The 150 year-old house was originally built as a farm by the Garth family and named Woodside.
When I visited in 2020, the bed and breakfast was being run by John and Julie Rolsen. John is a military veteran, and with Julie in charge of food (and what a cook she was!) and marketing, they ran the mansion together for over 20 years, whilst also raising alpacas!
The house was immaculate, and really like staying with family (family who have a mansion!). The attention to detail was impeccable, and it was clear that John and Julie loved every item in this home. John insisted on dragging my massive suitcase up to the room for me, recommended a great place for dinner, and showed us around. Even the shiny clean rows of Garth Mansion cups set out for breakfast were a joy to look at.
My room, the Rosewood Suite, was wonderful, comfortable and spotlessly clean, with lovely touches such as ceramic drinking cups, toothbrushes and cosy robes to sit by the fireplace in. I wanted to move in forever.
At breakfast, John and Julie joined us and two other visitors in the sunny restaurant. Breakfast was all freshly made and incredible, including strawberry yoghurt scones!
I loved that in between serving guests, the couple sat with coffee, available to chat, instead of being stuck in the kitchen. It was so fun to learn about the llamas and alpacas, and then be able to go outside and feed them!
I was very sad to hear that Julie passed away last year, as the two of them were an integral part of the visit for me. It was only a one-night stay, but I always remembered their friendliness, warmth, and no-nonsense southern hospitality. Seeing tough military guy John tear up as he showed me pictures of a baby alpaca was the sweetest thing. I left feeling like I was saying goodbye to old friends, and I thought of them often as the pandemic swept through the US.
The bed and breakfast has now been taken over, by the Hackmann family (who started out as guests), and John has moved to Arizona to be with family. I’m sure the new owners love it just as much as John and Julie did, and I can’t wait to return one day.
I’ve never stayed anywhere that I fell in love with so much, and I can’t recommend it enough if you ever find yourself passing through Missouri.
Book your stay now at https://garthmansion.com/