Experiencing steady growth as a boutique hotel/bed and breakfast, The Duchess started life as a Queen Anne Revival mansion in 1896. Situated on an angled corner, surrounded by century homes, a 5 minute stroll to Chatham’s restaurants and theatre, 10 minutes from the Health Alliance and retirement residences, 12 minute drive to the 401, and 20 minutes to Lakes Erie or St. Clair, her location between Windsor and London is ideal. When Google Maps is asked for Chatham or Chatham-Kent, the map centres 2 blocks from The Duchess.
Architectural features include a fanciful beehive turret and extensive brick and stone detailing on the exterior walls. Entrances and verandas were recreated from old photos. The interior has retained original oak flooring, wainscoting, built-ins, fireplace surrounds and stained glass. Decorating has been done using Victorian design records and antiques gathered by the owners before and immediately after taking possession.
A double paved driveway off West Street leads to a 500 ft2 ca 1905 brick and slate carriage house with the original doors and (most) windows. The original interior is entirely tongue and groove wood lined. The gardens contain a number of seating areas, and were built with sensitivity to both The Duchess’ Victorian heritage and the area’s Carolinian nature. Chatham is a Zone 6 growing area, and plants love it. Bathing cardinals and blue jays enjoy the pool and the gurgling living rock. The driveway and front garden are bordered by original, ornate wrought iron fencing. Parking for 4 guest cars is provided by a terracotta pad adjoining the driveway – a total of 10 stacked spaces.
The guest area includes a roomy entrance foyer, a library with a piano and a ca 1910 fireplace, casual front parlor, and dining room with built-in and gas fireplace. A gracious, gleaming oak staircase rises from the foyer to the 2nd floor. Also on the ground floor are well segregated kitchen, pantry and laundry room, the latter with doors to a private deck in the rear. This service area also includes a powder room, and easy accesses to the cellar and a servant’s staircase serving the second and third floors.
On the 2nd floor there are three fully-en suite bedrooms and an auxiliary, smaller bedroom. All are spacious, and each has several special features; as examples the Empire Suite has a sitting room, a total of five windows, and a vintage claw foot soaking tub; BackStage has stained glass and s skylight in the bathroom, and overlooks the gardens.
An office, walk-in closet, large living room with gas fireplace, expansive storage room, spacious bathroom and bedroom opening onto the turret balcony comprise the owners’ suite on the 3rd floor.
Major appliances and utilities are 8 years or less old. Prior to licensing and insurance, electrical was upgraded to 200amp service, knob and tube replaced, piping updated, an open stairwell enclosed and a new security/fire alarm system connected to a service. The property was approved for use in bylaw #342-2002, and is zoned Residential with Permitted Use RL2-5 “Bed and Breakfast”. The business is annually visited by Health and Fire Inspectors. Revenue Canada has calculated that the business occupies part of the total space, and thus 60% of mortgage interest, insurance, utilities, and taxes are deductible, along with direct expenses like supplies, telephone/cable, advertising and maintenance which are totally deductible.
The Duchess is registered in the Province of Ontario as a general partnership. Google searches for “Hotel” or “Bed and Breakfast” “in Chatham” presents The Duchess on the first page, as does a search with TripAdvisor (# 1 in Chatham). There are 2,000 B&Bs in Ontario, with 60 listed in Best B&Bs in Ontario - The Duchess representing Chatham-Kent. The Mayor has honoured us with a Preservation Award, and we are listed as a property of significant historic interest.
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