About the Bridges Inn at Whitcomb House
This quintessential inn is a sprawling colonial with Victorian touches situated in the quaint and quiet village of West Swanzey, five miles from downtown Keene. The décor of this building is lovely with uniquely decorated rooms, tin ceiling, and many antiques. There is a functional antique tub in one of the bathrooms. The inn is located a stone’s throw from the historic Thompson Covered Bridge and near the other Cheshire County covered bridges for which the inn is named. Each of the guest rooms is named for one of the nearby covered bridges.
This historic house, called the “Old Mansion” and “Stratton Place” over the years, was built circa 1792 by Richard Stratton, the wealthy owner of a cotton and woolen mill in the village of West Swanzey. Richard Stratton’s son, John, married Susannah Whitcomb and they lived in the “Old Mansion.”
About the Innkeepers
In November 2006, Susan (Schuster) Karalekas bought the inn, fulfilling a long-held dream of owning a Bed and Breakfast. She and her extended family are on hand to attend to guests’ needs and keep the inn running smoothly.
Susan’s experience in the hospitality industry stems from being born into a family who owned restaurants in Maine during her childhood and working in restaurants and food service throughout her high school and college years. Extensive travel throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, the Caribbean and Central America, Thailand, and Australia has given her the opportunity to see the hospitality industry through the eyes of a tourist. She likes her B&B to offer the food, service, and experience that she likes to receive when she travels. She thoroughly enjoys being an innkeeper, chatting with guests from around the world, and suggesting attractions, restaurants, and activities that meet guests’ particular needs and interests.
Susan’s academic and professional background is in applied psycholinguistics, communications, and writing, which landed her in the field of technical writing. She has also done a variety of volunteer work, including serving on the board of many non-profit organizations.
In June 2009, Susan married Nick, a history professor at a local college, who quickly adapted to the B&B. In addition to teaching, he enjoys writing, music, and tennis, all of which the Monadnock Region makes comfortable to pursue. He is also well-traveled, particularly to Europe, and has been able to easily interact with the B&B guests. After retiring from teaching in 2014, Nick has become more involved in running the inn.
In addition to Susan and Nick, this family-run inn consists of Susan’s personable son, David, a chef who repeatedly delights guests with his delicious, creative, and aesthetically presented breakfasts. David has also assumed a major role in the inn’s accounting and other aspects of managing the inn, including landscaping. He completed his bachelor’s degree at Keene State College in May 2013, where he majored in Economics. In September or 2016, David left for New York state to pursue graduate studies. Fortunately, he returns to the inn during vacations / semester breaks and cooks his acclaimed breakfasts.
Susan’s daughter Elizabeth and her family, including daughter, Gabriela, (born in 2005), and son, Eduardo (born in 2008) lived at the inn off and on until the summer of 2013. Elizabeth shared her expertise in customer service, marketing, and purchasing. Her passion for keeping the inn as “green” as possible helped us establish recycling, composting, purchasing environmentally friendly supplies, organic coffee, and other organic / natural food products, and doing anything to keep us environmentally responsible and conscientious.