By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News
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Come closer, and you see it: The imposing white house, with red flowers in front and blue water behind, is the West Coast replica of George Washington's place.
This Fourth of July weekend, people are visiting George and his devoted wife Martha here — their images, that is, in the art adorning the mansion walls.
And they will keep flocking in, because the George Washington Inn is not only a bed and breakfast, but also the Washington Lavender farm.
Innkeepers Dan and Janet Abbott put in 2,000 lavender plants and joined the Lavender Farm Faire, part of the Sequim Lavender Weekend from July 19-21.
The Abbotts, who have lived all over the continent, discovered this piece of land around 2002. They bought it thinking they would build a place to retire.
But as they took in the views of the Olympic Mountains and across the Strait of Juan de Fuca, they had the same thought: We can't just sit here by ourselves. Let's build an inn.
Dan, who has always loved the colonial style, consulted an architect, who “quoted me some ridiculous price.” So Dan went out and bought CAD, or computer-aided design, software.
“It was a $100 program,” Dan said.
“With a $20 rebate,” Janet added.
To his mind, designing a Mount Vernon replica was not terribly complicated. It's a basic rectangular shape, 33 feet deep and 94 feet wide, with basement, ground floor, second floor and attic.
“We figured: What better place than on a high bluff,” said Dan.
“Overlooking the Strait,” finished Janet, “the way George and Martha overlooked the Potomac.”
Meanwhile, Dan was working the job he still does today: financial adviser with Morgan Stanley based in Greenville, S.C. He hired a building crew while Janet, an office manager and mother of four, began planning the hospitality aspects of the inn.
The mansion doors opened on Presidents Day weekend in February 2008.
On their first Fourth of July weekend here, Janet was showing a guest the George Washington Suite when, as if remote-controlled, a bald eagle swooped into view.
The Abbots' inn is open year round, with five guest rooms at $225 to $300 per night based on a minimum two-night stay.
This job, Dan said, “is 24-seven,” not to mention indoor and outdoor. The Abbots have the lavender fields and a lavender farm store in the carriage house out front.
Ask what drove this couple, in their 50s, to embark on the farming concern along with the B and B, and Dan wears a blank look. He's used to multi-tasking. He grew up on a farm — his family's prairie homestead — in Alberta.
“That's the irony of the whole thing,” Janet said. The builder of the George Washington Inn is from Canada.
This July will be even busier than previous years here: The Abbotts' farm is one of the six on the Lavender Farm Faire tour. And they're inviting the public to high tea parties next Saturday, July 13, as well as during the July 19-21 Lavender Weekend.
And then they've added the Washington Music Festival to their Farm Faire menu. Port Angeles conductor Dewey Ehling is putting together small ensembles to play music of the Baroque era, the kind George and Martha Washington would have heard. On July 19 and 20, these musicians will play on the inn's patio, with its red, white and purple flowers blooming around them.
As for Dan, he decided it wouldn't be right for the George Washington Inn to be run by a Canadian. Before the 2008 opening, he began the U.S. citizenship application process.
On Jan. 20, 2009 — the same day President Barack Obama was first inaugurated, he recalled — “I became an American.”
For more information, visit www.GeorgeWashingtonInn.com or phone 360-452-5207.
For details on activities in Sequim and on nearby farms July 19-21, see the city website at http://tinyurl.com/visitsunnysequimlavender.
Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5062, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.