Historic Host

Hocking Hills Road Trip

Historic Host: Bed-and-breakfast proprietor offers whimsical lodging options with colorful histories in Hocking Hills area

Bed-and-breakfast proprietor offers whimsical lodging options with colorful histories in Hocking Hills area


Many people travel to Ohio’s Hocking Hills region to explore its breathtaking waterfalls, caves and hollows by day, then burrow inside a cozy cabin at night.

The scenery changes with the season and keeps people coming back year after year. But numerous cabins remain blandly familiar: log furniture, countrified decorations and a hot tub.

A unique lodging option in the Hills hearkens to the past. Historic Host offers a handful of bed-and-breakfast properties with fascinating histories. Travelers can stay in a cute cottage with a 1930s kitchen containing a collection of vintage cookie jars. Or they can bundle up in a century-old general store with shelves of touchable “merchandise,” such as stuffed animals and wooden cribs.

Overnight stays include breakfast, and a portion of the lodging fees goes toward restoration of more dilapidated buildings.

  • Fiddlestix Village is a whimsical raodside stop in Creola for visitors to sleep and eat.
  • Sue Maxwell
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“I call it sustainable preservation through tourism,” says Sue Maxwell, who started Historic Host in 2007 with her late husband, Jim Maxwell. In less than a decade, she’s transformed a collection of neglected buildings into unique tourist destinations that respect the history of this scenic Appalachian region in southern Ohio.

“My daughters like to rescue stray cats,” Maxwell says. “I like to rescue stray buildings.”

My family recently visited a 5-acre lot just north of McArthur, Ohio, that Maxwell affectionately named Fiddlestix Village. The whimsical, roadside stop incorporates old and new structures on a plot of land off state Rt. 93 in Creola.

At the heart of the complex is the Appalachian Quilt Cottage, a red, two-bedroom cabin that dates to the 1920s. At one time it served as a farmhouse for a nine-member family.

Sue learned of the building’s history through her visitors. One person told her that the front room once served as a roadside store where the owners sold eggs and homemade breads.

Another accommodation is a cottage holding hundreds of salt-and-pepper shakers that Sue found at auctions, antique shops and thrift stores. She’s billing it as a museum.

But the latest and most playful arrivals are a 1926 B&O caboose that comfortably sleeps two, and an old general store that my children especially enjoyed.

The front of the Martin Store resembles an old country shop, while the rear of the building has a bathroom and a cozy bedroom with a king-sized bed.

Like the other properties, Sue fell for the decaying, 1922-built structure at first sight along a stretch of U.S. Rt. 50 that crossed rural Vinton County. She saw potential and tracked down its owner, sharing her idea of preservation.

“If you can move it, you can have it,” he told her.

For more information, call 1-877-364-4786 or visit www.historichost.com.

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Wendy and Mike Pramik

Wendy and Mike Pramik are writers from Columbus, Ohio. Their favorite topic is travel, and they enjoy sharing stories about the many weekend adventures they take with their two children, Rosie and Max.