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Old-fashioned farm

Merriam Last has a passion for the past. She's turned 39-acres near Welch, Minnesota into a big step back in time.
  • Revolutionary War style

    Merriam Last flits around the long, dark smoky kitchen in Revolutionary War bonnet and big rustling dress, clucking over guests at her table like a mother hen tending a brood. Cast iron utensils clank as a bountiful breakfast is laid out on china, pewter and silverware that could have just left a cupboard in old Williamsburg. Handsome brickwork of the massive fireplace, creaky wide-planked floors and an array of yesteryear's utensils hanging from ceiling beams envelop guests, making them feel as though they're dining with Paul Revere.

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 23, 2012
  • Chickens scratch the yard

    Merriam serves up farm fresh eggs, biscuits, preserves and other piping hot breakfast fare, and punctuates the air with anecdotal facts and historical tidbits about old kitchen tools as strong coffee is poured in pewter mugs. Chickens scratch in the yard outside the kitchen window. <br>Merriam's hooked on history. She's turned her 39-acres of hilly forests and fields near Welch, Minnesota into a big step back in time.<br>

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 23, 2012
  • Hungry Point Inn

    "Hungry Point Inn" she calls it, a bed-and-breakfast venture she started in 1976 after leaving the noise and congestion of metropolitan Minneapolis-St. Paul, just an hour away. The acreage enables her to fund her passion for the past. "Antiques are just in my blood, I guess," Merriam says, her hands busy arranging a bouquet of fresh-snipped lilac blooms. "My descendants root back through the American Revolution." "I love this work, and my place here allows me to meet a lot of really nice people. A lot of them become my friends!"

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 23, 2012
  • Amazed by authenticity

    Her visitors, many of whom found her Inn on the Internet, come from as far away as Australia, England, Norway and South Africa. "I even had Nelson Mandela's press secretary here one night," she quips. "They're all amazed by the authenticity of the place."

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 23, 2012
  • Animal antics

    Guests can enjoy the rolling hills of Hungry Point in the winter by snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, or by taking long walks down tree-lined roads and trails in spring and summer. They are amused by the antics of her brood of egg-producing Aurcana Dominiques bantam chickens, Jacobs' Sheep, a Border Collie named Sarah and Annie, the yellow Labrador Retriever. The sheep live in an old barn that's bordered by split-rail cedar fencing, and are often "guarded" for hours by the Collie, much to the amusement of visitors.<br>During summer nights, sparks fly from a fire pit in the front yard as visitors stretch out on lawn chairs and gaze at the starry skies. Merriam will often times join the B&B patrons and talk about events of the day or offer suggestions about things to do and see in the eastern Minnesota river town of Red Wing, just a few miles down the road. <br>

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 23, 2012
  • Log house

    In addition to her main house, an 18th-Century Colonial, her property contains a 120-year-old log house that was moved log-by-log from Norwood, Minnesota. Both homes are furnished with period 17th and 18th century antiques that Merriam collected over the years. Hand-hewn log walls sport antique art, snowshoes, seed cupboards and the like, and the four fireplaces are furnished with massive old iron ware and cooking gear. Guests get to live for a time among the Treenware (wooden bowls), period tables, writing desks, hog-scraper candlesticks and pewter. A Queen-Anne Highboy dresser dominates a room in the big house. It's like living in a museum, minus the "hands-off, don't touch" signs.

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 23, 2012
  • Preparing for new guests

    Merriam explains the unique fireplace. "The big house fireplace system uses an old-time 'keeping room,' which is a separate but connected fireplace that always has a fire in it, winter and summer. It keeps the fire going all the time, you see," Merriam says. "In olden days, starting a fire was hard, so it was more efficient to keep one going all the time, even when it wasn't being used for cooking or heat. The central chimney runs all four fireplaces in the house." <br>As the smell of fresh bread mixed with sweet wood smoke fills the air, Merriam flits busily about the house, preparing for a new batch of guest who will step back in time.<br>

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 23, 2012
  • Learn more

    Hungry Point Inn<br>
    www.hungrypointinn.com<br>
    1 Old Deerfield Road<br>
    Welch, MN 55089-9515<br>
    (651) 437-3660

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 23, 2012
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