Oak Ridge couple transforms 1820 house into quaint bed and breakfast
Looking for a break from city life and seeking to reconnect with nature?
A new bed and breakfast in Oak Ridge, Armstrong County, combines history with hospitality, all within an hour's drive of Pittsburgh.
The Brick House Bed & Breakfast is nestled along the winding Redbank Creek.
Surrounded by nature, historic sites and small-town charm, guests can check in and check out myriad recreational activities from kayaking to hiking.
Constructed in 1820 using bricks produced onsite from the kiln that once existed on property originally owned by Yost and Magdeline Smith, the Brick House stands sturdy and proud.
Local residents Brenda and Glenn Shick bought the home in 2011 and opened for business in 2013.
They live a half mile away and provide prompt attention when their guests need it.
“We always owned the 100 acres surrounding the Brick House,” Brenda Shick says. “I always dreamed of having a bed and breakfast. I love sharing the history of the house.”
The house required extensive renovations to make it hospitality ready.
“We renovated for 18 months,” Brenda says. “There had been no upkeep since the 1970s.”
Travelers can select from eight guest rooms, three cabins and even two full RV hook-up sites.
Each guest room includes a luxury private bathroom, high-speed Wi-Fi, antique furnishings and a 32-inch flat-screen TV with cable.
The home features original hardwood floors, beams, exposed brick and wooden door frames. Each of the eight rooms feature custom craftsmanship by local artisans.
All rooms are named after the surrounding villages of Seminole, Oak Ridge, Hawthorn, Putneyville and New Bethlehem.
The Lydia and Hannah rooms are named after the couple's granddaughters, and the Louie room in loving tribute to their relative Louie Zamperini.
The cabins are fully stocked and can accommodate five guests in each.
“Our cabins have all the amenities, ...” Brenda says. “Just bring your suitcase, even the linens are provided.”
Rooms are priced from $95 to $135 per night and the cabins are $115 to $150 per night.
The property is within walking distance to the Redbank Valley Rails-to-Trails, a 20-minute drive to the quaint Amish community in Smicksburg, and adjacent to Cook Forest State Park.
The Shicks have kayaks available and will shuttle guests to nearby Redbank Creek for a one- or six-hour kayak excursion.
With two cooks on staff, a morning hot breakfast is served in the dining room featuring homemade casseroles, quiches, and a signature baked oatmeal dish.
An observation deck offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, and the occasional bald eagle sighting.
Becky and Rob Greathouse of Tionesta recently booked two nights in February.
“I have stayed at about 60 B&Bs across the country in my work travels,” Becky Greathouse says. “Brick House was hands-down one of the best. We have already booked a return trip for this summer. It is a unique property.”
Carla Carey, a New Bethlehem native residing in Chicago, always reserves a cabin at Brick House when she and her husband, John, return to visit family.
“We will be visiting this May and again in September,” Carla Carey says. “From the rooster that has no sense of timing with his crow and the eagle observation tower, it is always a lovely stay.”
“We have hosted guests from Norway, Switzerland, California, New Mexico, Nebraska and many more states,” Brenda says. “Every traveler has a story, and I love hearing them.”
Joyce Hanz is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.