New Crosby House innkeeper feels right at home in Brattleboro

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BRATTLEBORO — There's a new chef in town and she is taking over the kitchen at one of Brattleboro's oldest establishments.

"I was a chef for eight years but I wanted to go in a new direction," said Maria Thompson, the new innkeeper at The Crosby House on Western Avenue.

Thompson was so ready for a change in her life that she took the job, having never even been to Brattleboro.

"I came here sight unseen," she said, adding that since she arrived in August, she has felt at home in southeastern Vermont. "This town is beautiful and welcoming and (owner) Lynn (Kuralt) is the sweetest person in the world."

Thompson grew up in southwest Missouri and received a degree in hotel and restaurant management from the College of the Ozarks. After leaving her home state, Thompson spent a summer cooking on a dude ranch in Wyoming. She learned about the job in Brattleboro in a circuitous manner; while teaching English in the Republic of Georgia her sister-in-law, who was attending a wedding in Texas, told her she had seen a job listing for The Crosby House.

"She said 'I know this is the kind of work you are looking for,' and now here I am," said Thompson, who took the job after communicating with Kuralt via email.

The Crosby House was opened as a bed and breakfast in 1997 by Kuralt and her late husband, Tom.

"They said, 'The kids are out of the house so why don't we try this for five years or so,'" said Thompson. "Twenty years later, here we are, still in business."

The Crosby House has three guest rooms and two suites, all with private baths and most with gas fireplaces. The cozy dining room seats 14 and breakfasts include eggs baked in smoked ham with baby spinach and Grafton Village four-year Cheddar, custardy French toast croissants with a maple-orange sauce and pumpkin waffles topped with toasted pecans and served with Vermont maple syrup.

The Crosby House is an Italianate Victorian home built in 1868 by mill owner Edward C. Crosby as a wedding gift for his son, who moved out fours years later because it wasn't close enough to downtown Brattleboro.

According to "Brattleboro, Windham County, Vermont," written by Henry Burnham in 1880, Crosby, the son of Godfrey Crosby, was born in 1815 and became a flour magnate with "about half a million of dollars ... annually passing through his hands in the flour trade ..."

In 1869, a massive fire charred a swath of Main Street to the ground. In 1970, Crosby and his partner Charles Rice, purchased the section of the ruins known as the Blake property. "(In) less than ten days they had contracted for one million of brick and bought the most of their lumber, and commenced clearing away the rubbish left by the fire, and laying the foundation of what is now known as Crosby block," stated the Vermont Phoenix on Aug. 8, 1873. Later, the pair built the Market Block on Elliot Street and the Centre Block, also on Main Street.

But that's all history, and now Thompson and Kuralt are in the process of moving The Crosby House into the 21st century, which includes taking stock of repairs that need to be made to the building and prioritizing them. Thompson is also redesigning the breakfast menu and updating the business's website.

"Our clientele are very interesting," she said. "They are usually couples on getaways or families visiting students at Marlboro or SIT."

To learn more about the amenities at The Crosby House, visit www.crosbyhouse.com, email maria@crosbyhouse.com or call 802-257-7145.

Bob Audette can be contacted at 802-254-2311, ext. 160. Follow him on Twitter @audette.reformer.


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