Guests always ask how we started Woodland Ridge Retreat. The story starts with my favorite hotel, The Creamery Inn.
In 1998 we visited the Creamery for the first time. My co-worker Pete was best friends with one of the owners, Richard Thomas. He recommended it as a stop as we traveled to Minnesota that summer.
The Creamery was a derelict building when the Thomas family took on the project. Richard, Jane, David and John were siblings who would eventually run day to day operations. Their father, Paul Thomas, was an architect who taught in the style of the Bauhaus School of Architecture at IIT in Chicago. Paul created the plans for renovations with many nods to his favorite architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. The roof of the building caved in many years before and more than 6000 bricks were reclaimed to use in the reconstruction. Once the construction was complete in 1985 the building contained a huge kitchen and bakery, a farm to table restaurant, 4 inn rooms and an art gallery housing Dunn County Pottery. People would come from surrounding states to ride the bike trails and stay at Creamery.
During our first visit we met Richard. He gave us a tour of the Creamery’s kitchen and took us next door to stand on the slab of what was to become the new eight bedroom guest house addition. The Creamery Inn guest rooms were booking up a year in advance. The family was building the new building to handle the overflow. Richard’s brother John was in the process of firing thousands of tiles to be used in the guest rooms. A year later we had our first stay at what would eventually become our business. The Creamery “Bird House” addition housed luxurious guest rooms with beautiful handmade furniture. The room rate was higher than I had ever paid for a hotel. I didn’t tell my husband how much the room cost until years later when we owned the building.
The Thomas Family ran the Creamery until 2007 when they sold it to another couple just before the economy collapsed. The owners put much of their capital into renovations. The New Creamery wasn’t able to survive the downturn in business. Three years later the building went up for auction. It was purchased by some of the original investors. They were the only bidders to show up at the auction. The new partnership was seeking buyers that would not only care for the property but also enhance the community of Downsville.
Mark and I were hunting for a property to open as a retreat and a place to host fiber art workshops. Some of the criteria included a building with all rooms on one level. It also needed to be near nature with hiking or biking trails nearby. Imagine my surprise to find The Creamery for sale! In 2013 we opened Woodland Ridge Retreat. We are very grateful to the owners that believed in our vision. What a blessing to own such a special building.