Ashley-Drake Historic Inn Franklin, Indiana Bed and Breakfast accommodations

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"Strong at the broken places"
voices of illness, a chorus of hope
by Richard M. Cohen 

Daily Journal
March 22-23, 2003
B&B will offer R&R


by Annette Jone
Daily Journal Features Editor
Staff Photos by Tracy T. Mendez
     Sometimes the best things in life just take time and, sometimes, more time.  Ask Craig and Kim Smith.  The couple is turning a Franklin Queen Ann/Carpenter Builder-style house into a bed and breakfast, and the renovation is taking much longer than expected. 
     But the wait will be worth it for Franklin and for visitors to local antique shops, the fine art gallery and Franklin College.
     Rob Shilts, executive director of Franklin Heritage, says he frequently gets call from people inquiring about antique shops, restaurants, and bed and breakfasts, he says.
     "It's what the commercial area needed," he says of the Smiths' renovation on Jefferson Street.  "We have some nice hotels, but many ofthe people I'm talking to want the full experience."
     The Smiths saw the house's potential as a bed and breakfast two years ago but didn't have an opportunity to buy it until late last year.  So anxious were they to get the project started, they began work on the outside of the house before the loan went through in October.
     They painted the front of the house and replaced the porch railing to match their own Queen Ann home, built in Franklin around 1902.
     Then Kim placed a welcoming, lighted candlelight in the front window,letting the neighborhod know what to expect.
     The Smiths planned to paint the woodworka dn have the house fininshed by May until they discovered oak trim and paneling hidden by two coats of paint.
     "This house is taking longer than anything I've ever seen," says Craig, who spent 150 house sanding the stairway alone.
     The couple spends every Saturday and Sunday and two hours nearly every weekday evening working on the house.  They hope to finish the project this summer.
    Layers of paint have been removed from woodwork and paneling.  Carpet padding was heated and peeled away from wooden floors because it had been glued down.  Some woodwork and broken windows will be replaced, and the outside will be painted.  The sitting room is nearly finished, needing only a coat of paint and the Victorian settee and chairs stroed upstairs.  An armoir is already in place.


     A downstairs bedroom, enclosed with thick double doors, is off the dining room.  Upstairs are three more bedrooms, each with a private bath.
     The kitchen will be the easiest to finish, Craig says.  "Just move in the cabinets," he say.
     A game room with plenty of books adjoins the dining room, and a large screened porch will overlook the back gardens. 
     A carport behind the house will be torn down.
     A garden with masses of flowers and ponds will replicate the Smith's own garden.
     Most of the furniture, except for two beds and dressers, has ben purchased from antique shops in Indiana and Ohio.
     "It has to be something we would put in our own house," Kim says.
     Craig says, "I want this to feel like I felt when I satyed at my grandparents house."
     The house will be called Ashley Drake Historic Inn and Gardens, after the Smiths' daughter, Linden Ashley,5 and son, Cameron Drake, 7.
     Craig says he sees tremendous potential for the restoriation of homes on Jefferson Street from U.S. 31 to Forsythe Street.
     "I would love to save Jefferson Street," Craig says.  "There are so many fine homes that could be saved on this street.  The hardest thing about restoring a house is that you have to be dedicated."
     Several homes are for sale, but people don't bother to see what's inside, he says.  Many historical treasures are hidden by aluminum siding or lack of a paint job.
     "It's a sense of place," he says.  "We can walk to breakfast, walk to the Artcraft (Theatre), walk to the park, and Iknow my neighbors by name. 


Indianapolis Star
October 30, 2004
Transformation Complete
Couple turns house next door into bed-and-breakfast






photos by Gary Moore
A new owner's project to put bright yellow siding onto a late-19th century white wood-frame Queen Anne house was the last straw for Kim Smith, who lives next door.

"It made Kim so sick," recalled her husband, Craig.

The Smiths already had been upset for more than two years as they watched the house deteriorate as rental property.

Kim Smith rushed next door as the siding project began. "I said, 'Please stop.' "

The work stopped, and the Smiths bought the two-story house at 668 E. Jefferson St. a short time later in October 2002.

That started a two-year project by the Smiths to create the Ashley-Drake Historic Inn and Gardens.

Now it's completed, and the Smiths are ready to welcome visitors from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. today to an open house at Franklin's only bed-and-breakfast.

The inn, which opened informally on Labor Day, bears the names of the Smiths' children, Linden Ashley, 7, and Cameron Drake, 8.

The Smiths used some of their collection of antiques to decorate the interior.

Craig Smith, 36, who works in Beech Grove for Acterna, a manufacturer of test equipment for cable providers, estimated he and his wife spent 50 hours a week over two years to restore the house.

"Our favorite joke was 'two more weeks,' " he said about the project that wound up taking more than 100 weeks.

Besides painting the exterior a light tan, with green trim, they also painted interior walls. Stripping paint to restore the original pine flooring upstairs and the early 20th century oak flooring on the main floor proved to be a major time-consuming project.

They installed a pond, now home to goldfish and Japanese fish called koi, and hauled in tons of dirt to create a garden in the back yard that for years renters used for parking cars and running karts.

They created four bedrooms, each with its own bathroom and antique-style tubs and fixtures.

Each bedroom is decorated in a theme:

• Liberty Room, the lone main floor bedroom, features an antique double bed and Americana memorabilia.

• The Depot has a railroad crossing sign on a wall and train memorabilia, plus an antique brass double bed.

• Garden Room features a queen-size bed and garden touches, including dried flowers on a wood ladder in a corner.

• Heritage Room contains an antique iron double bed and soon will have pictures reflecting Franklin and Johnson County history on its walls.

"We'd always thought we should be shop owners," said Kim Smith, 39, who operates the bed-and-breakfast while she and her husband also home-school their children.

Kim Smith didn't just envision becoming a business owner in desperation to save the integrity of an architecturally significant house. Now, she keeps up with all the daily chores of running a bed-and-breakfast.

The duties include cooking breakfast, with guests placing orders the night before from an extensive menu that includes eggs, meats, cereal, pancakes and waffles.

She does get some help from her son and daughter, confirmed Cameron, who said, "We do the serving."

Most guests have been people from out of state who came to Franklin to attend weddings, said Kim Smith. The bed-and-breakfast also is well situated for visitors to Franklin College, which is a block south of the inn.

The Smiths have lived for 10 years in the late-19th century two-story, gray with green trim wood-frame Queen Anne house at 670 E. Jefferson St., next door to the bed and breakfast.

Both houses reflect their interest in historic preservation. Kim Smith is a former Franklin Heritage Inc. administrative assistant, and her husband is a former member of Franklin Heritage's board of directors.

"They've changed the environment there," said Rob Shilts, executive director of Franklin Heritage.

He said the restoration of a house can be a catalyst for neighbors to also improve their property.

Franklin Heritage, he said, can help people who don't have the knowledge to undertake a restoration or who don't know how to find those with the skills to do the work.

As for the Smiths, he said in recognition of their knowledge and skills, "They did the majority of the work themselves."

Call Star reporter William Booher at (317) 444-2706.

What:  Open House
When:  10a.m. to 3 p.m. today
Where:  668 E. Jefferson St. Franklin
How much:  Room rates are $75.00 and $85.00 per night for regular nights, $85.00 and $95.00 per night for special occasions and holidays.
Phone:  (317) 736-0199


Spring 2008
Bed And A Breakfast

Ashley-Drake Historic Inn and Garden

You meet the most surprising people when you're running a bed-and-breakfast inn.

Take, for instance, the producers of NBC's "Today," in town to shoot a segment in Franklin. Or author Richard Cohen, the husband of anchor Meredith Vieria of "Today." An English composer. A harpist. A Lithuanian educator.

Such is the life of Kim and Craig Smith, Franklin, and their children, Cameron Drake, 12, and Linden Ashley, 10. The family owns the Ashley-Drake Historic Inn and Garden (yes, named after the kids) at 668 E. Jefferson St. in Franklin, and has run the facility for 3½ years.

You don't have to be famous to be treated like a celebrity at the Ashley-Drake Inn.

"We try to make everyone feel special," Kim said. She welcomes each visitor by putting their name on a white board posted on the front porch and carries in their luggage. When bad weather threatens, she meets them at their car with an umbrella.

Once inside the door, guests come face to face with history - high ceilings, crown moldings, and walls full of the most lustrous oak woodwork imaginable. Kim actually shudders when she thinks of the potential fate of the structure before she and Craig snapped it up. As she tells it, they watched in horror from their home next door as workers carted in cheap vinyl siding to replace the perfectly sound (and historically appropriate) wood siding on the house. As the workers began to destroy the home's original exterior, Kim interrupted them and asked the reason. When told they were "improving" the house for sale, the Smiths immediately bought it and restored the wooden siding that had been pulled off.

Once inside their new house, they began stripping woodwork to repaint.

"We had decided to open it as a bed and breakfast inn, and we were going to open in six months," she laughed.

But when she discovered handsome oak woodwork under the layers of paint, she knew she had a project ahead of her.

"It took more than two years (to restore the house)," she said.

Adding to their woes was the fact that the house had been partially burned (arson is suspected) several years back.

The care the Smiths put into the restoration details leaps out at visitors when they first walk in the door. Genuinely old pedestal sinks and claw foot bathtubs in the bathrooms. Antique trunks that surely contained someone's worldly possessions from the Old World. Beautifully detailed crown molding and hardwood floors.

Peppered throughout the house are framed photographs of various Franklin sites from the horse-and-buggy era. Books with publication dates before 1900 lie casually about, as if waiting for a Victorian-era guest to resume reading. Antique furniture lends a feeling of truly having stepped back in time.

Marching up the staircase wall are framed pictures of every family who has lived in the house since it was built in 1897. A few former residents of the house have stopped in, to the Smiths' delight. Other long-timers in the area have contributed nuggets of information that add to the history of the place. Each piece of history is cherished - framed or placed in a scrapbook available for viewing.

Each of the Ashley-Drake's four guest rooms is decorated in a different motif. The downstairs Liberty Room, which has a patriotic cast, features framed pictures of Smith family ancestors. The flag of the original 13 American colonies hangs above the red, white and blue-bedecked bed. This room is the most accessible for those in wheelchairs and features a shower.

Upstairs is the Depot Room, personally decorated by Cameron. At various auctions and flea markets, this train buff has collected items such as lanterns and railroad crossing signs. There's a genuine railroad clock on the wall and a similarly themed watercolor painted by Kim hanging above the bed. The adjoining bath is fitted with fixtures from the early 1900s.

The Garden Room is Linden's territory. She chose the framed prints of princesses, which compete with the room's many windows for a lighter feel. Decorated in florals, this room features a spacious bathroom and garden-related touches such as an antique watering can, dried flowers draped over an old wooden ladder, and a framed swatch of the room's original wallpaper - floral, of course.

The Heritage Room offers the largest space for a family - in addition to the bed, there's a pull-out sofa. The enormous adjoining bathroom was once a lady's parlor, Kim said, and now is refreshingly sprinkled with greenery. Gleaming wood floors contribute to the colonial feel of this roomy suite.

Coming downstairs for breakfasts, guests will find a collection of restaurant-style tables, rather than the one long table most associated with bed-and-breakfast inns.

"Not everyone feels comfortable eating breakfast with people they don't know," Kim pointed out. "If they want to sit together they can, but they don't have to."

Cameron and Linden serve as wait staff, bringing home-cooked omelets and pancakes out to the guests and occasionally garnering a much-appreciated tip. The Ashley-Drake offers a bevy of public areas for guests. There's a reading room with novels and other books ranging from Civil War to Indiana trivia. A former woodshed has been connected to the rest of the house and is now a media room, where a selection of movies, music and more books awaits. The former screened-in back porch, now enclosed with windows on two walls, serves as an additional TV room, and offers a 180-degree view of the outdoors, as well. The Ashley-Drake even features a gift shop full of candles, antiques and the inn's signature mug.

The grounds are worth exploring, too. This is Craig's domain, and he has created an idyllic English-style garden, complete with koi pond and bubbling fountain. An ancient crabapple tree overlooks the luxurious garden, around which several benches offer a shady reprieve. For the more active in nature, the Smiths have purchased antique-looking bicycles (although they're reproductions), so visitors can cycle down the quiet streets of Franklin.

When business quiets down a bit, the Smiths are planning to complete the paperwork necessary to have the house listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Was all the restoration work worth it? Undoubtedly, emphasized Kim.

"If nothing else, we saved the house from being destroyed."

Prices range from $75 to $95 per night. For more information on the Ashley-Drake Historic Inn and Garden (including directions), visit

Western Omelet

½ cup white onion, diced
½ cup purple onion, diced
½ cup green pepper, diced
½ cup red pepper, diced
½ cup orange pepper, diced
½ cup yellow pepper, diced
2 slices thick ham, diced
¼ slab ground medium sausage
3 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
dash salt
dash pepper
¾ cup grated fiesta cheese
Oil or spray oil

In a medium-sized saucepan, sauté onions and peppers.
In a medium-sized saucepan, cook sausage. When cooked, add diced ham and lower temperature to low. Beat eggs lightly. Add milk, salt and pepper. Beat mixture lightly.
In a large, round-bottomed saucepan, spray oil to cover whole pan. Put pan on medium heat burner. Add egg mixture to pan. Let sit until egg is almost cooked. Add onions, peppers and meats. Add grated cheese. Lift pan up and over plate. Slowly tip pan, sliding omelet onto the plate about half-way out. Lift pan forward, folding omelet over on top of itself. Garnish with more cheese, if desired.

             Daily Journal

This old house

Kim Smith shows off the dinging room at Ashley-Drake Historic Inn and Gardens with her children, Cameron, left, and Linden.
Oct. 23, 2004

This old house
Daily Journal features editor

Oct. 23-24, 2004

Cozy and steeped in history, Franklin’s first bed and breakfast is open after a lengthy renovation.

Work at Ashley-Drake Historic Inn and Gardens took more than a year longer than owners Craig and Kim Smith anticipated.

“We thought it would take six months,” Kim says.

But yes, she would do it again if it meant saving a piece of history.

The couple bought the Queen Ann/Carpenter Builder-style house next door to their own renovated Jefferson Street home for fear it would be turned into a rental.

A bed and breakfast sounded feasible: The house is a block from Franklin College and its cultural and sporting events.

Within easy walking distance are antique and specialty stores and the recently renovated Johnson County museum in downtown Franklin. Also close by are Edinburgh Premium Outlets, famed architecture in Columbus, picturesque Nashville and nightlife in Indianapolis.

The six-month plan to make some repairs and add fresh paint was scuttled when the Smiths discovered oak trim and paneling hidden by two coats of paint.

After hours of tearing out walls, closing off doors and sanding, scraping and staining the woodwork to reveal the home’s original beauty, the house glows with its oak woodwork and wood floors.

“Each door took 10 hours,” Kim says.

But it was a labor of love, she says.

The bed and breakfast, named for their children — Linden Ashley and Cameron Drake Smith — offers the comforts of a home away from home.

The public rooms — a formal living room with Victorian and Eastlake furniture, a dining room and an informal parlor — open off the wide front porch that stretches across the front of the house. A game room and screened-in porch look out over the backyard’s mature gardens, patio and koi pond.

For the cost of their room, guests get a home-cooked breakfast they order from an extensive menu the night before.

Wander out the back gate, and guests are steps away from the Franklin Historic Greenway Trail for a stroll, jog or bike ride. The Smiths provide bikes and strollers.

The Smiths’ first guests, in town for a wedding, told Kim they had never stayed in a bed and breakfast before. And they would never stay in a hotel again.

“I think once you stay in a bed and breakfast atmosphere, you don’t want to go back to a hotel,” Kim says.

Rooms are painted a deep sage green that compliments the shining oak woodwork.

The downstairs bedroom off the dining room, called the Liberty Room, features an antique double bed and a private bath with a walk-in shower.

Upstairs, the Heritage Room overlooks historic Jefferson Street and Franklin College. The room also features an antique iron double bed and an oversized chair with a sofa bed.

The Depot Room is filled with train memorabilia and an antique brass double bed, and the Garden Room features a queen-size bed and overlooks the innkeepers’ back yard.

Each of the upstairs bedrooms feature antiques and large bathrooms with claw-foot tubs and a shower riser. Beds are all covered in quilts in keeping with the late 18th and early 19th century.

Despite the expense, plus working nearly every night and weekend with only two weekends off for family trips in the past year, Craig says he would take on a renovation project again.

“But not just yet,” he says.

He would do it differently, too.

“I think I should have done the more difficult tasks, like plumbing, up front,” he says.

“You get so excited about the visual part, but the mechanical part is more important,” Craig says. “It’s 90 percent of the work.”




Bedford, Indiana

March 24, 2007


Put that bottle of pop on my tab, please


It wasn’t possible to shake Kim Smith’s hand.

Not in a literal sense. She was a hundred miles away on the other end of the telephone.

But that handshake did occur in a figurative way.

Kim told my wife, Valerie, that if we arrived at the door of her Ashley-Drake Historic Inn in Franklin last weekend, prepared to pay for a night’s lodging, we would find there was a room waiting for us.

No credit card. No written contract. No promise to give Kim our firstborn if we didn’t show.

That pretty much amounted to a figurative handshake, the kind that seals a deal. It was simple trust.

It’s a kind of trust that, too often, is spoken of in the past tense, as a reference to “back in the time when a man’s word meant something.”

Kim Smith’s way of doing things hearkens back to the time when I, as a kid, could walk into Smith’s Grocery in Orange County’s Valeene and walk out with a bottle of Big Red even though I didn’t have a dime to my name. There, another Smith, Nellie, just wrote the amount of my purchase down on a piece of paper (with that of about every other kid in town) confident I would pay it sometime. No credit checks. No collateral. No interest fees. (Obviously, I didn’t even have a firstborn in those days.) Just simple trust.

Kim Smith’s way of doing things hearkens back to the time when I could take my mom to a store in downtown Marengo and drive off with a car full of groceries. No sworn statements. No dotted lines. No questions asked. Just an understanding that my dad would be there within a day or two to pay the bill. Just simple trust.

Kim Smith’s way of doing things hearkens back to the time when I could walk into a local bank and name the amount of money (within reason) that I needed and it was available to me. No reference checks. No attorneys. No affidavits. No calling somebody in Chicago or Cincinnati or someplace far away to see if it was OK to hand me the money. No giving up my firstborn. Just simple trust.

I decided I surely couldn’t be the only one who could recall a time “when a man’s word meant something.” So, I placed calls to a couple of longtime merchants.

Joe Bradley has been associated with Kirby Hardware in Orleans since the 1950s. He told me in-store credit would be much more difficult to collect on now than it was a few decades ago. “We had a lot of people ... who would say they would come in at the end of the month or they would say, ‘We’ll pay in a couple of weeks,’” he said. The money almost always came through the door.

The same applied at the grocery store that Joe’s parents and aunt and uncle owned for many years on Vincennes Road in Orleans.

“They had a little book where they kept people’s names,” Joe said. “The people would come in and buy their groceries and pay when they could. ... They had one or two that they lost,” Joe said. But, that was in 30 years of selling groceries. Just simple trust.

At Mitchell’s Holmes Hardware, Don Caudell Jr. told me that customers often would do what came to be called “buying on time.” He said, “There were no signed contracts. No agreements. It was just your word.” Just simple trust.

That approach has changed largely because so many people began using credit cards. But, refreshingly, Caudell told me, “We still have in-store credit.” He added, “Occasionally, we’re willing to take a small amount of risk,” Caudell said.

He also told me, “We’ve got a couple of older gentlemen that will still call this the ‘jot-’em-down’ store.” Just simple trust.

I started thinking about this notion of trust — a two-way street — when Valerie and I were going through her parents’ personal effects after their deaths. We found a yellowed piece of notebook paper whereon the now-deceased Bill Wyman, as salesman, had penned, “This washer model 11429597U is unconditionally guaranteed for 1 year against all defects in workmanship and material. W.E. Jenner & Sons stand good for repair (if there is a) failure to operate properly.” No complicated warranties to return to the manufacturer. No chance Bill would ever deny the paper carried his handwriting. Just simple trust.

I stumbled onto an unidentified visitor to an Internet guest book who wrote about that kind of trust. The baby boomer wrote that when he was born in 1954, “Trust was real ... trust was free.” Many factors, the writer said, changed all that. Too many people. Not enough jobs. The cost of living always going up.

Even though few people have taken advantage of Kim Smith’s trust, people like her no doubt will become rarer and rarer. And the “jot-’em-down” stores, I’m confident, will surely become fewer.

Better make sure you get a tight grip on your firstborn.


Times-Mail Staff Writer Roger Moon can be reached at 277-7253 or by e-mail at roger@tmnews .com.