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A huge wallpaper mural covers one wall in the family room at Jessie's Guest House. Matt Peterson/matt.peterson@austindailyherald.com
A huge wallpaper mural covers one wall in the family room at Jessie's Guest House. Matt Peterson/matt.peterson@austindailyherald.com

Archived Story

A home away from home

Published 10:46am Friday, October 4, 2013

Brownsdale guest house offers slice of rural tranquility

Tucked under the shade of oak trees on the north edge of Brownsdale, the white house with the horseshoe driveway is a touch of country elegance.

Jessie’s Guest House, at 27030 State Highway 56, just across the road and south of IBI Data, opened in April and goes beyond the scope of a simple place to stay. IBI Data owners Katherine and Michael Harte opened the guest house with hopes of offering a slice of the rural life along with a classy atmosphere and a hometown, family feel. It’s what Katherine’s grandmother would have wanted, she hopes. After all, it was her grandmother’s house. Today, it looks much different than the run-down home pictured in the Jessie’s Guest House book.

“Would Jessie be happy with these changes,” said property manager Sherry Anderson as she looked around the house on Wednesday. “I think she would.”

Jessie's Guest House on the north side of Brownsdale, opened in April for reservations and offers an elegant slice of the rural life.
Jessie’s Guest House on the north side of Brownsdale, opened in April for reservations and offers an elegant slice of the rural life.

Jessie’s is named for its original owner, Jessie Iblings, who lived there with her husband, Peter.

The house, built in 1935, lay in disrepair until 2003, when Vern Bergstrom began remodeling it partly as a hobby. The result is a new country home with an old-time feel that is open to IBI clients or anyone who wants to rent it for the day, weekend or more.

“This is really the only place in Brownsdale that’s available for rent,” Anderson said.

There are rafters in the kitchen, a wrap-around porch out front and rustic cabinets in one of the bedrooms. There’s a giant wallpaper image of the farm life in the family room, and a spacious patio out back allows for plenty of occasions. Numerous, widely spaced oak trees set the scene over a huge backyard.

“She wants people to come here and experience rural living,” Anderson said about Katherine’s hopes.

Ask either Sherry or Katherine, though, and the kitchen tops it all off.

“The kitchen is always the heart of the home, and this is definitely the heart of this home,” Anderson said.

Among barn-like rafters and brand-new appliances, there is the nook. It’s booth seating tucked into the corner, a memory of Katherine’s childhood and a not-so-common scene in today’s homes.

“We had the same thing when I was growing up next door to my grandmother,” Katherine said.

People wonered if Jessie’s would have its own nook. It seemed like a must-do thing.

“We had to, and we did,” Katherine said.

A book features some of the history of Jessie's Guest House and the Ibling family.
A book features some of the history of Jessie’s Guest House and the Ibling family.

Thus far, people have been sharing in Katherine’s hopes and memories. Groups from surrounding states have booked the guest house, and one group came from as far as Australia, as they were visiting others in the area.

“I was pretty much booked all summer,” Anderson said.

In late September, there was an open house, which drew plenty of visitors.

“We had over 100 people,” Anderson said.

The home is available year-round for bookings. Guests have even more free roam than just the yard, as well. They can meander to the IBI Data property where they can explore the vast trails and enjoy the outdoors.

Next door to Jessie’s, a nearly identical home is taking new shape, too. Katherine’s mother’s home will become Josie’s. Where Jessie’s caters to bridal showers, reunions, scrapbookers, wine tasters and the like, Josie’s will be more family and pet oriented. The flooring is pet friendly, and the atmosphere, with bunk beds, is suits those with children. The project, about one-third complete, should be finished next year.

Regardless of what home people choose to stay in, Katherine simply hopes people can enjoy a slice of rural life as she did growing up. She hopes they’ll have something to remember when they check out and head back to their own homes.

“We’re really about creating those memories,” she said.

For more information about Jessie’s Guest House or to make reservations, go to jessiesguesthouse.com or email contacts@jessiesguesthouse.


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