Archived Story

Bank Street B&B under way

Published 9:10pm Monday, December 17, 2012

It has been full steam ahead since September for Ruth Baker, who bought a lavish home on Bank Street at auction and has been working since then to transform it into a bed and breakfast.

Baker, who moved from Maine to take ownership of the 1909 mansion, will seek a conditional use permit at Tuesday’s Planning Commission meeting. She hopes to win approval to operate a bed and breakfast and to hold public assemblies downstairs.

The future bed-and-breakfast at 204 Bank St. is decked out for the holidays.

“I’ve met the nicest people,” she said recently. “People just keep dropping into my life that have been so helpful. The city has embraced me.”

The home was auctioned after Viola “Billie” Annas died in January. Her husband, Jack Annas, gave his estate to his children, who decided to auction it off.

Parts of the proceeds went to the Western Tidewater Free Clinic and the ALS Association.

Baker placed a $400,000 bid on the home. She also purchased at auction an adjacent lot with a stripped, vacant home, as well as some of the most significant furnishings and silver pieces.

She moved there shortly thereafter and has spent the last two months putting her plan into action.

Baker hopes construction can begin in February. A handful of moderate changes are being made inside the home.

On the first floor, only a powder room will be added to bring the total to two, for public events. She may also add a wheelchair lift.

On the second floor, a wall in the servants’ quarters will be removed to make the rooms one big suite. The configuration on other rooms will be changed to make a total of four guest rooms.

Baker will turn the elevated music room into an office, and her apartment will be on the third floor.

As for the house next door, she hopes it can be salvaged and put to use for more guest suites.

She expects construction to take about six months, she said.

“All along the way, it’s been fun,” she said. “Every day, something new and exciting has occurred. I’m so excited to get to a place people can come in and enjoy the house.”

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