Preston’s only and longtime bed & breakfast, the JailHouse Inn, has new owners and they’re a perfect match for each other. Dorle Kaase, along with husband, Tom, who is the Fillmore County Sheriff, purchased the historic 1869 gem July 31. “Running a Bed & Breakfast has been a dream of mine off and on for many years,” says Dorle Kaase. “ I never thought it would become a reality.”
The couple had actually looked at purchasing the JailHouse Inn previously, when it was for sale back in 1991, but decided the timing wasn’t right. Instead, they started a family and welcomed son Kaine a year later. When Tom was driving around Preston during Trout Days this summer, the new “For Sale” sign caught his eye.
“We called the realtor for a showing shortly after and the rest is history!” she laughs. “After we looked at the JailHouse, we were hooked. We loved the building,” she says. “They turned it into the B&B it is today,” acknowledges Kaase. “After I shadowed them for a few days, I knew the innkeeper role was right up my alley.”
The couple was off and running immediately after closing. “August 1 was our first day. We had a group that had booked all 12 rooms.” The group was terrific, but the Sathers stayed on for a few days to help ensure the transition was smooth. “A regret of ours is not knowing them prior to this summer. They are a delightful couple who have been great mentors to us.”
The couple never considered any other options or locations. “We love Preston and Fillmore County is where our heart is!” she enthuses. “Tom grew up in Preston, I grew up in Fountain, and our married life has been in Preston and Spring Valley. I can’t imagine living anywhere else.”
The history of the JailHouse Inn is its charm and Dorle loves telling its tales. “My parents, Orley and Doris Grindland, taught me from an early age the importance of history, preserving and honoring the past,” she says. “This jail has some interesting and intriguing history. It’s really amazing that it has been so well cared for and preserved. I close my eyes and envision what it was like in the late 1800s, booking inmates in the original processing room and the original cell. To think that the sheriff’s wife fixed the meals for the inmates in the sheriff’s kitchen and the meals were lifted up to the upper cell block areas using a dumbwaiter system. This was done from the 1800s up until the early 1970s,” she tells. The site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. “We feel honored to own it and to carry on the history.”
The JailHouse is packed with amenities, including a coffee, tea, and homemade snack time each evening and hot meals every morning. Each room honors a past Fillmore County Sheriff, who has lived in the jailhouse, and the rooms have been meticulously crafted from the former processing room, detention room, ‘drunk tank,’ courtroom, four rooms that were the sheriff’s family quarters, and even portions of the upper cell blocks. Each of the 12 guest rooms offers a private bath, which vary from showers to tubs, including a 1000 lb. China bathtub, a copper tub, or clawfoot, jetted, and whirlpool tubs.
Additional communal rooms include a large parlor, sheriff’s kitchen, dining room, wine room, upper deck, and lush and private garden patios. “There are seven wood burning fireplaces in the inn, so I anticipate that being popular in the winter,” adds Kaase. “I enjoy cooking and entertaining, so it has been fun to cook for anywhere from two to 30 guests.”
While there aren’t any big changes for the inn on the horizon, the Kaases would like to continue to highlight the history. “I would like to incorporate more history into the jail and give a detailed account of the history and purpose of each room for guests to view. I’ve also named the commercial kitchen the ‘Bailiff Doris Grindland Memorial Kitchen,’ after my mom.” Doris Grindland served as a bailiff in Fillmore County courtrooms for more than 37 years.
“Managing my time has been the biggest challenge thus far. I am still working as a nurse, but am hoping retirement or a cut in hours is in my future soon,” she jokes. “Learning how to do laundry for an inn this size was also challenging.”
“Meeting the inn guests is the highlight,” she says readily. “In the past two weeks we have had guests from Michigan, Door County, the Twin Cities, Kansas City, Madison, Milwaukee, all parts of Iowa, and the Netherlands.”
Roughly 100 close friends and family received invitations to an open house, held August 7. “It was a perfect opportunity for everyone to see each of the rooms and to celebrate with us as we cut the ribbon on our business adventure,” says Kaase. “The support from our family and friends, our son Kaine and grandson Payton, has been great.
“When I am doing something that makes me happy and it feels right, you can’t help but get emotional. It was overwhelming for me at the open house to see so many people supporting us and to see a dream of mine become reality. Tom’s dream is being the Sheriff of Fillmore County and he is living that dream. Now my dream is also a reality.”
The JailHouse Inn will be hosting a public open house later this fall. Details will be made available as soon as they are finalized. “We want the residents of Fillmore County to be able to see the original jail, sheriff’s living quarters, the Fillmore County Courtroom and to see how great the building is and to celebrate its history,” shares Kaase.