Perry Juenemann just wanted a getaway from the stress of his teaching job at a Minneapolis high school. He never thought it would turn into running a bed-and-breakfast in Reads Landing, Minn., high on a bluff overlooking the Chippewa and Mississippi River Valleys.
The American Eagle Bluff Bed & Breakfast is operated out of an 1870 brick Dutch Colonial on 36 wooded acres in Reads Landing. It includes 12 acres of gardens, shrubs and fruit tree orchards tended by Juenemann.
Guests who stay in the two suites are served breakfast inside a solarium where they can gaze at the two scenic rivers in the distance.
Many bird-watchers stop at the property on the way to the nearby National Eagle Center in Wabasha. The B&B’s acreage even has its own eagle-observation deck offering a bird’s-eye view of the Chippewa River flowing into the Mississippi on the Wisconsin side.
“It’s like a nature sanctuary for birds,” said Juenemann. “We see scarlet tanagers, pileated woodpeckers and lots of eagles.”
Back in 1994, Juenemann bought a small vacation home in Reads Landing, an 80-mile drive from Minneapolis, where he spent weekends and summers.
He became friends with Beth and Jim Tidwell, who lived down the road and had decided to sell their 1870 home along with its vast unspoiled acreage in 2004.
However, the Tidwells were concerned that a developer would buy the land and turn it into new housing subdivisions, which had started springing up in the surrounding cornfields.
“Beth told me that I should buy it,” said Juenemann. “I said I didn’t have any money. But I really wanted to preserve the land — so somehow I got it.”
A friend suggested turning the charming historic home into a bed-and-breakfast. Juenemann took his advice and lived there for several years while enhancing the landscape and updating the home.
He planted more trees, shrubs and gardens of perennials and formal English topiaries outside, and remodeled and spruced up the home inside.
In 2010, Juenemann and co-owner Raynard Petersen opened the American Eagle Bluff Bed & Breakfast. “He’s the cook, and I’m the pastry chef,” said Juenemann.
The men made scores of improvements, from tearing down walls to create two big bedrooms with modern bathrooms to converting a bedroom into a library. “But we kept all the original hardwood floors, pocket doors and woodwork,” said Juenemann.
The existing kitchen was small and boxy with dark Menards cabinets, he said. The fresh new farmhouse-style kitchen boasts painted white cabinets, granite countertops and a stainless-steel-topped center island, with the walls a cheery sunburst hue. Out a new window above the kitchen sink, “you can see 15 miles down the Mississippi River Valley when you’re doing dishes,” said Juenemann.
The old porch with its 1970s dark paneled walls was transformed into a three-season solarium/breakfast room warmed by a gas fireplace to keep it cozy in the winter.
The living room is painted a bright teal blue and decorated with antiques, including a metal enameled red Mobil Pegasus sign. “We found an 1870s fireplace surround for the new gas fireplace,” said Juenemann.
Outside, they serve coffee and muffins to guests on a sheltered veranda with an old-fashioned porch swing next to a fish pond with views of the grounds and river valley beyond.
“A guest sat on the veranda and said it was the most beautiful place she had seen,” said Juenemann, “and she was from Italy.”
After they sell, Juenemann and Petersen will have to leave the idyllic property and the endless wildlife and migrating birds. “I’ll miss the serenity with Mother Nature,” said Petersen.
Juenemann did some historical research and discovered that the area “was a gathering place for native people before the white settlers came,” he said. “It feels sacred.”
But now Juenemann is 70 years old and ready for the next phase of his life, with freedom to travel. “I’m done weeding the gardens,” he said. The men also will continue to work at their antique and jewelry shop, Ruby Beets, in Reads Landing.
Juenemann hopes the buyer will keep the Dutch Colonial as a bed-and-breakfast business — or else turn it into a single-family home.
“It’s an incredible piece of property,” he said. “I hope it’s preserved for eons.”
Todd Shipman of Lakes Sotheby’s International Realty, 612-382-4550, has the listing.
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