Fortville’s Ivy House Bed & Breakfast Celebrates 18 Years of Providing a Historic Haven For Travelers
Photographer: Ron Wise
Jim and Linda Nolte never planned to own a bed & breakfast. Jim was a retired government worker who was a township trustee while Linda worked with special needs children. However, after a 25th wedding anniversary trip to Bar Harbor, ME, the couple began to dream of turning their empty nest into a historic haven for weary travelers.
The result is the Ivy House Bed & Breakfast. Established in 2000 and located in Fortville, the Ivy House is a three-room B&B that offers guests comfortable, cozy and luxurious accommodations along with convenient access to local amenities in Indianapolis, Fishers, Noblesville and more.
“It took us about nine months to get the inn ready in terms of licensing and insurance and there is always something to do around here, but we knew we had a beautiful home with a unique history and we knew our guests would love it as much as we do,” Linda says.
Jess E. Ferrell, a prominent physician from Maxwell, IN built the Ivy House in 1921, choosing the site because it was the highest elevation point in Fortville. Throughout its 97-year history, the Dutch Colonial has had five owners and not long after the Noltes took possession in 1980, they discovered old gaming boards in the attic later learning that the basement was home to an illegal gambling operation during the prohibition era.
“The house was featured on HGTV’s “If Walls Could Talk” and according to local legend, Al Capone was a regular visitor to the gambling establishment,” Nolte adds.
Nolte says in the 18 years that Ivy House has operated as a B&B, they have hosted guests from all over the U.S. and from as far away as Canada, England, Norway and Sweden. She says some guests come for the bed-and-breakfast experience, while others may be looking for a comfortable respite when visiting family or friends. No matter where they hail from, visitors to the Ivy House are always welcomed like old friends and are given a heaping helping of Hoosier hospitality.
Some of those guests even go on to become lifelong friends. Nolte says her longest recurring guest is a Canadian woman who usually stays at Ivy House for two weeks in May but occasionally returns in the fall. After eight years of visits, she has become a good friend of the Noltes and has even attended family functions. When Nolte’s best friend passed away, the guest drove down to attend the funeral. Nolte says you couldn’t make that kind of bond at a traditional hotel.
The Noltes still travel from time to time and they still like to stay in other bed & breakfast establishments because it gives them a chance to meet other owners and trade ideas. Although it is a lot of work and there is always something to do to keep the inn running smoothly, Nolte says it’s worth it because they love what they do.
“I wake up early to cook breakfast and sometimes I might be doing laundry at 11 p.m., but it is the best job in the world and we wouldn’t trade it for anything,” she says.
The Ivy House Bed & Breakfast is located at 304 N. Merrill Street in Fortville. Give them a call at 317-485-4800 or visit them online at ivyhousebb.com.