(Text below republished with permission, The Clarion News) By Jessica Falkowski, Clarion News Writer, 8/5/08
After being open for 14 years, the Cook Homestead Bed and Breakfast will be closing its doors this fall. The Cook Homestead Bed and Breakfast, owned by Denny and Barbara Kocher, has been the home of many visitors to the Clarion area. “The guests that come here as strangers and leave as friends,” said Barbara Kocher. “We’ve met guests from every facet of life and every kind of occupation,” said Denny Kocher. “We’ve had professional golfers, doctors, lawyers, and even forensic psychologists.” At the bed and breakfast, guests have more of a one-on-one experience with the owners and other guests. “Our guests here not only become friends with us, but they become friends with other guests that stay here as well,” said Mrs. Kocher. “Saturday nights we have a campfire out back and make s’mores and just get to know one another. That’s how we become a family.” The bed and breakfast was once the home of the Cook family that preserved the timber to later become known as Cook Forest. “We still have many of the antique furniture that was owned by the Cook Family and we display it in our house to keep the history and memories alive,” said Mrs. Kocher. “After we leave, those antiques will remain with the home.”
But for the Kocher’s, what they will miss most is the people that have allowed them to become a part of their lives. “We now have this large extended family of people that started out as guests and have become a part of us and our lives,” said Mrs. Kocher. “We get phone calls, emails, and pictures from our former guests telling us about their weddings or the birth of their children.” The couple has even filled two scrapbooks of thank you notes, articles, and pictures that the guests have sent long after their stay at the bed and breakfast. “I just couldn’t throw them away,” said Mrs. Kocher. “So, I decided to put them in a scrapbook and now I have two of them full of memories.”
Kochers Retire Cook Homestead Bed and Breakfast
As for retiring, the couple feels they are at that point in their life to relax and start spending time with their children and grandchildren. “This is a very tiring business,” said Mr. Kocher. “There’s a lot of behind the scenes work that people don’t know about. We have laundry galore. With a full house of guests, that’s a lot of laundry not to mention the dishes and maintenance that has to be done.” Mrs. Kocher added, “Our children are all over the country; we have 17 grandchildren. We don’t get to see them because we don’t get time off from this.” As for what will happen to the home, the couple would like to see it converted into a historical museum. However, the state has purchased the home and the future of the house remains uncertain.
For those considering opening a bed and breakfast, Mr. Kocher offers these words of advice: “Do it when you’re relatively young. It’s both mentally and physically tiring. But even with all that exhaustion, you’ll create a lot of good memories.” The bed and breakfast will officially close the first weekend of November. “When the last guest leaves our home, the sign will come down,” said Mr. Kocher. But even as the couple prepares to close their doors, they still reminisce about all the great people and wonderful memories they have.
“We enjoy watching people come to our home to stay and sitting on out on our porch looking at the river,” said Mr. Kocher. “They look so relaxed, and that’s a great thing to see from our guests.”