Kimmell, Ind., is a sleepy little farming community located on the old Fort Wayne and Goshen Trail (now U.S. 33).
Originally plotted as Sparta in 1836, it was the first Noble County Seat. Now the town is home to roughly 500 people and is an extensive grain distribution center with Gaerte Grain being the hub of the town. Sitting adjacent the “B&O” railroad tracks, the huge silos can be seen from afar.
We used to frequent the Downtown Kimmell Inn, a dumpy bar in the center of town, to quaff its wonderful fried perch baskets, drink cold beer and play table shuffleboard. When the owner died a couple of years ago, the bar closed until some new owners recently reopened.
That bar, granary, a couple churches, post office and Foster’s Garage are about it for the town.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF KIMMELL
The town’s namesake, Orlando Kimmell, moved into the area in 1851 with his parents. They bought acreage about two miles south of what was then called Sparta. Through the years, they expanded the farm, raised crops and cattle and eventually, Orlando took over the family farm.
In 1876, Orlando and his wife built the Kimmell House. In those days, it was an impeccable house and included central heating and indoor plumbing — pure luxuries at that time. The original woodwork is still part of the character of the house. Also around the grounds remains the sugar maple stand — which produced the sugar used by the family — the original cistern and ice house and the original carriage house.
As the Kimmells’ farm expanded, distributing cattle and crops became a huge problem. So, Mr. Kimmell solicited the “B&O” to procure a railroad siding for the small town. As a result, the town prospered and within a few years, the name was changed to Kimmell in his honor.
A BED AND BREAKFAST IS BORN
The Kimmell House has had only four owners, including the Kimmells. Dean, Deb and Elsie Stoops purchased the property in 2002 and after refurbishing the house, they turned the twelve acre property into a Victorian-era bed and breakfast, and opened The Kimmell House Inn.
The largest accomodation is the Master Suite, which consists of two spacious rooms and features a large bay window, electric fireplace, queen-size bed, shower and bath in one room and two twin beds in the other room.
The Cherub Room offers a queen-size bed and a Jacuzzi tub, while the English Room features a full-size bed with an historic, carved headboard and antique soaking tub in the bath.
What was originally the summer kitchen for the Kimmell estate has been refurbished into a three-room country retreat, complete with king-size bed, two-person Jacuzzi tub, refrigerator, microwave, coffee-maker and toaster. The Summer Kitchen Cottage provides privacy surrounded by beautiful flower and herb gardens.
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Included in the inn package for all rooms are private baths, room climate control, TV, DVD, movie library, Wi-Fi, hairdryer, ironing board and iron. The upper hall also has a refrigerator stocked with complimentary beverages.
To complete this destination country retreat is the Bistro in the Country, where breakfast and lunch are served 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the main dining room and the parlor room on the main floor. Both meals are available seasonally to the public and either one is worth the short trip to the inn.
The breakfast menu consists of house-made scones, cinnamon rolls, pancakes, varieties of French toast (perhaps the best in all of Lake Country), various croissants, fresh fruit bowls and various drinks. There are also omelets and breakfast sandwiches.
A three-course breakfast is available by reservation. It is the same meal served to the inn guests as part of their bed and breakfast experience.
The lunch menu, served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., always has a soup special coupled with the daily tomato bisque. On one visit, I enjoyed a large cup of a robust potato and ham soup in a light stock broth…definitely a keeper! Also offered are deli-style sandwiches with egg, tuna or chicken salad on bread of choice or croissant. I particularly enjoy the tuna salad and on occasion will stop to grab one to go when on the way to Fort Wayne.
Also on the lunch menu are panini sandwiches, lightly grilled with a choice of turkey, ham, veggie or pizza. The pizza panini is much like a muffaletta but is grilled panini-style and features a house-made pizza sauce rather than a vinaigrette. It is stuffed with ham, salami, peppers, mozzarella, tomato, onion and mushrooms. I could eat only a half myself, as these are huge and just loaded with flavor. Plus, by going the half-sandwich route, you can couple it with a soup or salad.
The bistro’s desserts, handcrafted daily, draw many folks to the inn. Offerings include chocolate lover’s mocha fudge cake (unbelievably rich but still light enough to devour the whole thing), caramel bread pudding, French vanilla cake, chocolate chip pie and even old-fashioned ice cream sundaes.
Dinners are available for groups and by reservation. The dinner menu choices include typical country farm fare like baked chicken with herbs and pecans, honey-glazed ham, roast beef roulades stuffed with a house-made dressing, the bistro meatloaf and lasagna. Dinner meals come with salad, rolls, potatoes and vegetables. Most of the recipes used by the bistro are passed down from co-owner Deb Stoop’s mother.
OCCASION FOR ELEGANCE
The inn hosts many special events, including small business meetings, wedding receptions, baby and wedding showers and, during the holidays, office parties.
The holidays are special times at the inn. Deb and her family have a knack for Victorian elegance and they carry that through in the historic home’s holiday decorations. Make your reservation far in advance, because nearly every spring and summer weekend is booked.
Although available throughout the year by reservation, the Victorian tradition of High Tea is a classic opportunity to take a trip into the past. Offering nearly 60 tea varieties, the inn’s collection has something for everyone.
High Tea services include various tea sandwiches, scones and desserts. Tea is available anytime the inn is open by reservation.
To complete the inn’s fabulous array of offerings is the coffee bar. A Victorian square grand piano serves as the coffee bar complete with Italian espresso, specialty flavored coffees and Italian sodas.
Grab one of these delicious drinks and enjoy the inn gift shop adjacent the dining room. Many souvenirs, books and other items are offered. Or you could just meander the grounds and sit for a while in the gazebo.
“Peaceful, relaxing county elegance” is the way Deb Stoops defines this picturesque spot that she and her family created. This is a can’t-miss spot to enjoy a breath of fresh country air, the farm gardens, the many bistro delights and a relaxing night’s sleep away from the real world.
For more dispatches from the dining scene in Kosciusko County from Loren Shaum, subscribe to the Lake Country Escapades email newsletter.