BELLOWS FALLS, Vt. – The Harvest Barn Inn, located at 16 Web Terrace in Bellows Falls, recently celebrated the arrival of new inn owners Kaelan James Yen Smith and Blessing Yen Smith, who recently arrived in Bellows Falls from California. The couple have been married since 2017 and officially took over ownership of the inn on August 15.
“We took over this Monday and didn’t even close the doors for a night,” Kaelan said. “There was actually a guest who stayed the night during the transition, so she went to bed with one group of innkeepers and woke up with another!”
Blessing is from Southern California and Kaelan from a small town in Northern California, and they met in Los Angeles 12 years ago. Kaelan attended Boston University before moving to Los Angeles, so he was already familiar with New England.
“We’ve spent the last five years thinking about leaving California for a number of reasons related to living a more sustainable life,” Blessing added. “Sustainability from an ecological and lifestyle point of view. But until the pandemic, we never really imagined leaving California. After Covid, we slowed down and thought more holistically about our lives.
Their decision to move was not made quickly, but in the spring of 2001 they decided to quit their jobs and sell their house. After searching in various parts of the country – Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, North Carolina – they began searching in New England and found their way to Vermont.
“After a friend randomly sent us a listing for a large farm in Vermont on 50 acres, it got us looking all over New England, but Vermont kept tugging at our heartstrings. Then Kaelan came across a listing for the Harvest Barn Inn on www.InnShopper.com and it sounded too good to be true…a gorgeous old house on 10 acres overlooking the Connecticut River. It was also a business that had been operating successfully for over 30 years.
Kaelan and Blessing thought that if they bought the inn, they wouldn’t have to look for new jobs because the house and the land would be the new jobs. All of a sudden, the idea of running the inn, welcoming guests, getting the garden back in working order excited them.
“Kaelan traveled to Bellows Falls last spring and fell in love with not just the Inn, but the whole village,” Blessing added. “Joining businesses as diverse as Wunderbar, Rockingham Roasters, Moon Dog Café, The Flatiron Coop, The Opera House, Joy Wah, Windham Antiques Center, Big Red Barn and Halladay’s Flowers, plus the Amtrack running from downtown directly to New York’s Penn Station… we knew right away this was the place for us!”
Despite many updates over the years, the house is 130 years old, so there are plans to refresh the bathrooms, add solar panels on the roof and also work on growing and local sourcing of all the food they serve.
“Rich and Ellen Sager have done an absolutely wonderful job running the Inn for the past five years, so our first priority is to uphold the standard they have set with their hospitality and food. Plus, there are so many amazing farms, dairies, cideries, sugar mills, wineries, and rotisseries nearby that we should be able to get anything we could want without traveling more than 25 miles from Bellows Falls.
“You can’t beat our view of the Connecticut River and we have our own mountain in our backyard. You can literally walk through our orchard, past our pond, take the trail across our creek and up into the forest to see the maples and oaks change color during foliage season.” To learn more about Harvest Barn Inn, please visit www.harvestbarninn.com.