By Will Fairless
The Heritage House has come under new ownership and is now open for reservations. Dani Nelson and Leif Espelund purchased and refurnished the property, and it will serve both as a bed and breakfast and as an event venue.
Nelson, an Alexander City native, and Espelund, originally from Oregon, met in Seattle and lived there for the past few years. They decided they wanted to acquire a property like the Heritage House and began searching all over the country for one.
When they first visited the Heritage House, it satisfied most of their criteria before they even got to the front door. “[Itʼs] near a really interesting downtown area and walking distance to restaurants and bars,” Espelund said, “and itʼs obviously a very beautiful, interesting and eye-catching property.”
The couple came down to Opelika this January and have spent the time between then and now furnishing the house and getting it ready for business. The furniture that had filled the house under previous ownership was sold as part of a deal that eventually fell through (save for three pieces, one of which, because of its size, will be there as long as the building is).
The house is now furnished with a combination of authentic, antique pieces and new furniture that matches the period and aesthetic of the rest of the house. This marriage of new and old is reflected throughout the house, from the extensive rewiring of lights and additional outlets to flat screen televisions and wireless-charging alarm clocks in every room. These modern amenities donʼt overshadow, but complement, the period-appropriate furniture and decor (such as a baby grand piano and bookshelves stocked with hardcovers and yellowed pages) that are the stars of the show. “We both love these historic things, and weʼre very novice, but we also really love modern conveniences,” Nelson said.
Each of the five bedrooms has its own subtle theme, such as the “Carriage Suite,” which is a dog-friendly room, as it has access to the lawn. The Carriage Suite is decorated with Opelikaʼs railroad-town history in mind and has a separate room serving as a study, complete with a vintage Underwood typewriter (because a Royal simply wouldnʼt do, said Espelund).
The house is geared toward weddings and wedding-adjacent events, but the parlor and lawn could accommodate cocktail parties, anniversary parties and any number of other community events, as can Nelsonʼs and Espelundʼs experience in, respectively, event planning and marketing.
“We both enjoy charitable organizations; the arts is more where my heart lies,” Nelson said, “Already I have heard that the local theater group does murder mystery dinners.”
The Heritage House looks like something out of an Agatha Christie novel, and Nelson has started thinking about hosting dinner theater and murder mystery parties.
The two are very excited to be part of the Victorian Front Porch Tour this winter, among other Opelika festivities. “Next year weʼd love to participate in [the Songwriters Festival] and have this be a place where people come and do some concerts on the lawn,” Espelund said.
Besides wanting to be involved with the community for the sake of hosting events, they would like to find local farmers and restaurants whose food they can serve in their dining room (the tables in which are currently spaced six feet apart).
For more information about Heritage House or to book a reservation, visit heritagehouse1913.com or call 334-552-3052.