spilling the beans

The Oliver Inn serves breakfast and historic charm in South Bend

By Molly B. Moon / Photography By Peter Ringenberg | February 21, 2018
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The Oliver Inn in South Bend, built in 1886, is painstakingly cared for by owners Tom and Alice Erlandson.

A short walk from downtown South Bend, IN, on West Washington Street, among the mansions and grand homes from the first of the city’s peak manufacturing periods, sits The Oliver Inn.

Built in 1886, the Queen Anne–style mansion seems made for entertaining, with its lofty ceilings and generous proportions. Nestled among its nine bedrooms and 15 bathrooms are crystal chandeliers, ornate radiators, period antiques, cozy nooks and sitting areas complete with blankets, books and magazines.

The inn is owned by Chicago natives Tom and Alice Erlandson, who moved here from Pennsylvania in 2005 to fulfill their dream of running a bed and breakfast. Under their care, The Oliver Inn has earned Trip Advisor’s Certificate of Excellence seven years running.

Tom’s background as a hardware store manager informs his constant work keeping up the 131-year-old home. The mansion was commissioned by James Oliver, the inventor of the Oliver Chilled Plow, as a wedding gift for his daughter. The rooms, named after members of the Oliver family or notable South Bend figures, each have a unique draw, whether it’s a warm fireplace, a Jacuzzi tub or a heated bathroom floor.

Photo 1: South Bend's Historic Preservation Commission has identified the inn as an “outstanding” historic structure.
Photo 2: Co-owner Alice Erlandson, who has 30 years of baking experience, prepares a homemade breakfast each morning for her guests.

For many guests, the most memorable part of their stay is the food.

“I don’t have formal chef training, but I have 30 years of baking experience,” says Alice. Her experience has found a happy outlet in the inn. Alice prepares a homemade breakfast each morning for her guests, served in the meticulously decorated dining room with a freshly brewed pot of locally roasted Bendix Coffee. Throughout the day, guests can find Alice’s cookies or cakes waiting for them in the cook’s pantry.

At our morning interview, Alice served her breakfast strudel, a crisp and tender savory stuffed with sausage and eggs. I helped myself to fresh fruit from a cut-glass fruit bowl and sipped coffee out of a delicate Royal Kent china cup. Only with iron will could I wave away the proffered cheese Danish, fresh from the oven.

When The History Museum hosted the “Downton Abbey” wardrobe collection, Alice provided tea for 900 people. She will provide the same—tea with cucumber sandwiches, fresh-baked scones and seasonal quiche—for your party of 10 or more, on the premises. Or you can explore more of South Bend’s history with the Three-Mansion Package: a stay at the inn, dinner at Tippecanoe Place next door and two tickets to Copshaholm, another Oliver mansion nearby.

Paul and Elicia Doellinger celebrated their two-year anniversary at The Oliver Inn.

The Erlandsons work hard at their job. This year, along with hosting around 2,500 guests, they are making time for upgrades, both large and small. South Bend’s Historic Preservation Commission has rated this home 13 out of 13 possible points plus identifying it as an “outstanding” historic structure, and the Erlandsons want to keep it that way, so lately they’ve spent their free time up on scaffolding scraping and painting the exterior to keep it pristine.

“The best part about innkeeping has to be the fascinating people that we meet,” says Tom. “They all have stories of their travels, their families, their history. Listening, and sharing our story and the story of The Oliver Inn, is what we enjoy most. We are able to connect with many of our guests on a really personal level, and that has created true friendships with people from all walks of life, and literally from all over the world, most of whom would never have crossed our path if not for The Oliver Inn.”

The Oliver Inn

630 W. Washington St.
South Bend, IN

Article from Edible Michiana at http://ediblemichiana.ediblecommunities.com/things-do/oliver-inn-south-bend
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