Don and Jane Stiriz open Rorick Manor 2008.05.14
By DAVID GREEN
“Don’t you have that place done yet?”
That’s a question Don and Jane Stiriz hear at their pizza shop all too often.
“That place” is the old Rorick house on Fayette’s west side of town. Among the many grand old houses in town, that place might reign as the grandest of them all.
Don and Jane will admit the question is justified. They’ve owned the house for more years than they care to admit, and it’s always remained a work in progress.
That nagging is-it-done question weighs on the mind.
The Stirizes are about to call it done.
“Just a couple of chandeliers to hang,” Don said.
From 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, the old Rorick house—now known as the Rorick Mansion Bed & Breakfast—will open to the public for tours, and it will also open for business.
This is the third guest house in Fayette owned by the Stiriz family. There’s the Red Brick Inn on Main Street, where Don and Jane live, and the Crittenden Manor on S. Gorham. And now, the new one, capable of accommodating 10 guests.
It’s the best constructed of all their homes, Jane said, and it’s also the youngest. They haven’t been able to come up with an exact construction date, but the late 1880s is likely.
Dr. Estelle Rorick practiced medicine in Fayette and had the Red Brick Inn built for his private residence. Later, Dr. Rorick ordered a new house built on the edge of town where he could develop a farm.
In the 1940s the home was converted to apartments and it recently sat vacant for several years, in danger of falling into great disrepair.
Don bought it for one reason: To save it.
“It’s amazing how much he’s bought just to save,” Jane said.
From furniture to reed organs to entire houses, the Stirizes have prevented a lot of local history from fading away in time.
The restoration job facing the Stirizes was monumental. Woodwork was scarred by dog teeth. Careless tenants damaged fixtures. Rats moved in when the people moved out. Water stood on the basement floor for years.
“I’d say we’ve got about the driest basement around,” he said. “It’s about powder dry.”
Their grandson Jonah now uses the basement as a workshop for repairing reed organs.
“There were a lot of big challenges to the house,” Jane said, “just the size of it.…”
It’s a lot roomier than the other houses, Don said, but those big, high-ceilinged rooms are a real plus, Jane adds.
It’s a house loaded with details, such as the ornate woodwork, the four sets of pocket doors and five fireplaces—each surrounded by a unique tile design.
“There’s so much character in an old house,” Jane said.
The Stirizes are sometimes asked why people would come to Fayette to stay in a bed and breakfast, but Jane has several answers: weddings, funerals, family reunions, class reunions, guests in need of a bedroom, the occasional traveler on U.S. 20, and a variety of day functions.
“I’m hoping to do some retreats and workshops,” she said. “I have a lot of ideas, but nothing written down.”
A bed and breakfast isn’t for everyone, Jane said, although many people seek them out rather than staying in a motel. Don installed a private bathroom for each bedroom to make a stay in the house more comfortable.
Getting to the “open for business” stage has spanned many years for Don and Jane. “Slow and steady” has served as a motto. They’ll tell people it’s done, but they both know better than that.
“The more you look around, the more you find to do,” Jane said. “With an old house, you’re never really done.”
• The Rorick Manor is located at 613 W. Main St. in Fayette. For additional information, call the Stirizes at 419/237-2276.
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