The Innkeepers

Meet Rita and Dave Nelson

Innkeeping is a way of life for us as we begin our 22nd season at the Port Washington Inn.  From this vantage point, we recognize that our decision to become innkeepers involved (by default) a decision to preserve the historic property we own.

Although ‘bed and breakfast’ has become a generic term over the years, our bed and breakfast is a traditional one in its origin as a residential property that was transitioned into a property that accommodates overnight guests and includes breakfast as part of their stay.

Earlier in its history, this large home had been divided into front and back duplexes in order to survive the years of the depression. Fifteen years after our arrival, as the new siding and windows displayed their final coats of paint, we realized that in addition to becoming innkeepers, we had become involved with historic restoration and with eco-friendly practices.

Thus, our inn increasingly reflects our philosophy of preserving the best of the past while incorporating the best of the present.  When people ask how we happened to get into innkeeping, we attribute it to Rita’s mid-life crisis! Dave had already made a career change and Rita was ready to pursue something which allowed for more creativity than her position in the registrar’s office of a small college. Rita and (daughter) Noelle had stayed at a small bed and breakfast on one of their trips together and that experience became the inspiration that led to becoming innkeepers of the Port Washington Inn.

Guests of the inn typically comment on the pleasant feel of the inn; they appreciate that the decor creates an atmosphere of ‘good living’ in keeping with the house. One of the special features of this house is its many large windows which allow exquisite light to inhabit each room. Controlling the amount of sunlight (and providing for privacy) has led us to provide layered window treatments that allow guests to customize their guest room lighting to their preferences. Rita’s sewing room has provided many of the custom window treatments throughout the building.

Dave and (son) Aaron’s woodworking shop has created many beautiful pieces of furniture that enhance guestrooms and common areas throughout the inn. Without their ability to make these antique reproductions, the Port Washington Inn furnishings would not reflect the authentic atmosphere we are proud to provide for our guests.

Good honest food brings enjoyment and satisfaction to us all and providing that experience for our family was and is a priority. That philosophy of creating good food from good ingredients naturally extended to the food we offer our guests. It is especially fun to create that food in the kitchen we designed around our AGA cookstove!   Increasingly our guests are concerned about the quality of the foods they eat; a recent website edit, thanks to (son) Zach, reflects our concern with providing the best for our guests: “food to nourish body and soul”.

We are proud to share our inn with our guests.