Written by Danielle Taylor | Photos by Jeff London
From childhood, Brockway natives Sharon and Peter Varischetti admired the regal Queen Anne Victorian home on Main Street, but they never imagined they would one day transform it into a masterpiece lodging destination that would draw visitors from far and wide. Originally built for a local lumber business owner in 1889, the home featured fine turn-of-the-century craftsmanship and unique character stemming from accents like stained-glass windows and intricate woodwork.
“The B&B has, in my opinion, always been one of Brockway’s ‘jewel’ homes,” Sharon says. “As kids, we used to walk by and wonder what was inside. It was one of those homes that spoke ‘majestic.’ I also remember several different families who owned the home, so I knew that it had ‘history’ and was well-loved by a lot of people.”
However, the home’s previous owners moved out about seven years ago, and by that point, it was in major disrepair. The Varischettis lived nearby and saw the house continue to decline.
“There were tarps on the roof that were literally in shreds,” Sharon recalls. “Water had damaged much of the third and second floors. The wood was falling off of the house, and simply, what was once beautiful and robust was dying a slow death.”
By 2014, they decided to purchase the house but had no real plan on how to renovate it or what to do with it once it had been restored. The home had significant damage, including ceilings falling in, pipes pulled out of the walls, and a crumbling chimney. However, they saw great potential in what remained.
“The bones of the house were still great,” Sharon recalls. “Most of the woodwork was still beautiful. The craftsmanship was amazing. The parquet floors, the fancy baseboard, the fireplaces on the first floor — they were, for all intents and purposes, unscathed. So, it took a lot of soul searching, but we decided we’d turn it into a bed and breakfast.”
Beyond just restoring this one home, the Varischettis saw their labor as part of a larger community revitalization effort for their beloved Brockway. For three years, they embarked on an extensive renovation journey that restored the home to its former glory and honored its heritage while retaining many of its timeless elements. In January 2018, the Varischettis opened Maple Shade Mansion’s doors to the public and began welcoming their first guests.
“It’s been like waking a sleeping giant,” says Sharon. “We are so proud of it. It has beautiful stained-glass windows, and the woodwork is amazing — in the daylight, nothing compares to when the glass illuminates the rooms.”
The B&B features five elegant guest rooms and suites named after prominent community members, and each offers its own distinctive ambiance steeped in history. Guests can find features such as walk-in rain showers, clawfoot tubs, fern-lined porches, Victorian-inspired outdoor spaces, and in-room amenity packages designed to make their stay unforgettable. Each morning, visitors can enjoy an extensive breakfast menu featuring specialties like waffles, quiches, baked oatmeal, pastries, egg casseroles, and coffee cake. The trailhead for the popular Clarion-Little Toby Trail can be found three short blocks away, and many guests enjoy exploring local history or visiting area wineries.
The B&B has quickly become a popular destination, and Sharon recommends guests book a month in advance and earlier for major holidays. “We’ve had guests from Texas, California, Florida, Tennessee to name a few,” she says. “We’ve also had guests from Brockway, which gets me choked up. To think that we have the support and love of people from town who are truly excited and want to show their support, that’s a great feeling.”
The mansion is also available for event rentals, and so far, the Varischettis have hosted everything from a first holy communion party to birthday parties, weddings, luncheons, private dinners, professional retreats, and business presentations/dinners.
When asked what she’d like potential guests to know before their stay, Sharon said, “I’d want them to know that it’s truly a relaxing atmosphere. Visitors come and go all day. We try to make it special and really focus on the details. Fresh flowers in the rooms, wine and refreshments in the evening. The beauty of operating a small business is that we can customize to make each stay special and unique.”
Learn more and find other interesting places to visit in the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors region by going to VisitPAGO.com or calling (814) 849-5197.