2017-10-07 / Front Page

Hygrade Inn coming back to life


Exterior restoration work is underway on the new Hygrade Inn Bed & Breakfast on East Fourth Street in Emporium. The former personal care facility was purchased by Jim Wendel, David Karkoska and Sharon Robinson earlier. Remodeling continues and the trio hopes to be open for business by next fall. Exterior restoration work is underway on the new Hygrade Inn Bed & Breakfast on East Fourth Street in Emporium. The former personal care facility was purchased by Jim Wendel, David Karkoska and Sharon Robinson earlier. Remodeling continues and the trio hopes to be open for business by next fall. Jim Wendel and David Karkoska want visitors to the Hygrade Inn to have the same reaction they did when they toured the historic home for the first time.

They gasped in awe.

Wendel, an Emporium native, and Karkoska, a weekend resident living in Phoenixville, have been joined by mutual friend Sharon Robinson Taylor, a Philadelphia public school teacher, as the new owners of the former Erskine home on East Fourth Street in Emporium.

Gradually, they’re transforming the three-story former personal care home facility into a quaint bed and breakfast

Karkoska said the idea was hatched after they spoke with Cameron County Chamber of Commerce director Tina Johns Solak about potential business opportunities.

“We had considered a number of ventures, but couldn’t agree on what to pursue,” he explained. “Tina suggested that we look at the Erskine property and idea stuck.”

“It’s just such an amazing house, with so much history attached to it,” Wendel said. We loved the layout, the character and the location.” Wendel and Karkoska have gone to great lengths to ensure the community is involved in the remodeling process, even going so far as to solicit input on paint color choices and landscaping options. They’re also working with local businesses to provide amenities for boarders such as soap and an exclusive food menu.

Other comforts will include a covered front porch with tables to give guests the option of having an outdoor dining experience, an upstairs sitting room complete with its own small library, and a downstairs parlor area. Each room will also be equipped with its own bathroom.

Exterior painting has been completed, chairs and other pieces of furniture have been purchased, and older carpeting has been removed.

In the coming months, ceilings will be replaced, electrical and plumbing infrastructure will be modernized, a new roof will be installed, parking will be added in the rear and a pair of patios will be added. Recessed lighting will be installed throughout the inn. Hardwood floors will be refinished and a wishing well on the property will be deepened.

Plans call for the Hygrade to open for business next autumn, but several events are being held in the interim, include a paint-and-sip art class and two photography exhibits featuring historical images of Emporium.

“We love this town and people seem to be happy that we’re doing this,” said Karkoska. “We thrilled by such an overwhelming response.”

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