Harlem Mayor Scott Dean and his wife Renee Meyer Dean needed another project to keep them busy.
Leading a city, running Mrs. Dean's photography business, raising two sons and remodeling their home to make room for the five Guatemalan children they intend to adopt this year apparently wasn't enough.
The Deans will soon be in business with their parents as proprietors of a bed and breakfast.
The Deans and their parents recently received city council approval to run an inn at 410 North Louisville St., which will soon be known as Red Oak Manor. The Dean and Meyer families have a contract to purchase the six bedroom, two-story 19th Century Victorian home, which stands beneath the shade of century old red and post oak trees.
The home was built in 1885 by John Weeks, a physician and cotton farmer who owned 3,000 acres north and west of the city, said Linda Caldwell, a former owner from 1977 to 2004.
"It's been such a local landmark all these years and we hated to see it go downhill being vacant," Mrs. Dean said. The current owners bought the home from the Caldwells and moved away about a year ago. The house has stood vacant ever since.
The Deans and Meyers plan to renovate the upstairs, adding two bathrooms for a total of four, and having four guest bedrooms. Two bedrooms downstairs will be converted into meeting space and a parlor.
A carport on the north end of the home will become a dining room with seating for between 30 and 50, and a detached garage will be connected to the home and become the new kitchen.
Mrs. Dean said the vision is for the Manor to become a wedding and reception destination as well as a getaway for tourists.
Meyer said each member of the family will provide a special talent. In addition to Mrs. Dean's photography services, she and Mr. Dean cook for their church. Mr. Dean's mother, Ricki Dean, caters and is a cafeteria manager at Harlem High School. Mrs. Dean's parents make specialty and novelty cakes part-time and her sister is moving back to Harlem after a stint as an events coordinator.
Mrs. Dean said the manor should be a boon for Harlem and the Oliver Hardy Museum, which is seeing increased visitation.
The Meyer and Dean families plan a public unveiling party during the Oliver Hardy Festival in October, with a grand opening early next year. They say people have already asked about booking rooms during Masters Week.
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