Room for Guests

By Carla Jean Whitley | Birmingham Magazine
Published February 2011

A Montevallo woman transforms a historic home into a bed and breakfast.

Janice Seaman didn't intend to open her home to the public. When she bought the 1915 home in the heart of Montevallo, Seaman intended to renovate, then sell, the 4,000-square-foot house. But the real estate market had something else in store.

And so Seaman, a real estate broker, combined her entrepreneurial spirit, knowledge of antiques and enthusiasm for history in the Fox & Pheasant Bed & Breakfast Inn. With the University of Montevallo, American Village and the National Cemetery all located within miles of the house, it seemed a logical decision. But Seaman was nervous about sharing her home with strangers.

Fox & Pheasant's first guests alleviated those concerns. The couple kept Seaman laughing and gave her a guest book for the inn before their departure. Now, she loves sharing space with guests and will even rent out her own bedroom when demand is high. "I kept meeting all these interesting people I wouldn't have met otherwise," Seaman explains.

Welcoming guests is an extension of the labor of love Seaman has already invested in the house. The home was previously in such dilapidated condition that potential buyers couldn't see the possibilities. The walls wept with moisture, and hardwood floors buckled in places. Over the course of 18 months, Seaman had the home rewired, the floors repaired, sanded and stained (darker and darker until stains no longer showed) and walls repainted. "All I did was take it back to where it had originally been," she says.

Seaman built upon the home's beauty by installing a commercialgrade kitchen that's as beautiful as it is practical. "It was kind of fun—I got to start with just walls," she says. Custom cabinetry, a tiled backsplash and ample storage make this a home cook's dream. Guests begin their days in the adjacent breakfast room, a cozy nook that displays paintings by Alabama artists John Heine, a friend of Seaman's, and Barbara Gallagher of Montgomery.

Seaman has an eye for design; she's renovated homes before and once owned Montebrier Antiques in Montevallo. So she decorated the four-bedroom home herself, and with help from Jocelyn Palmer of Signature Designs, Seaman incorporated antiques found at area shops, some she already owned and those already in the house. A Victorian settee that sits at the foot of a bed had suffered as much as the house itself. But after Seaman had it recovered in a rich blue fabric that matches the bed's headboard, it became a statement piece.

Similar attention to detail shows up throughout Fox & Pheasant. Each of the four bedrooms has its own bathroom, with décor that takes its cues from the adjacent bedroom. When guests request an extra bed in a room, Seaman moves in an iron full-size bed, rather than a roll away. Each room features cable and a flat-screen television. And the home's spacious porches, back deck and yard offer places to slip away with a book or host an event for as many as 250 people.

Four years after embarking on the project, Seaman has overcome her hesitancy and discovered that she's a natural hostess. With the Fox & Pheasant, she has found a way to combine her design and business talents, as well as her newfound skill as an innkeeper, to create a home she can share with others.

Montevallo native back home running a B&B

By Roy L. Williams | The Birmingham News
Published Saturday, July 19, 2010

Janice Seaman had no intentions to open a bed and breakfast when she bought a nearly century-old estate in her hometown of Montevallo 18 months ago.

But what started out as a personal campaign to save what she called "the last surviving historic property in Montevallo" ultimately resulted in the creation of the Fox & Pheasant Bed & Breakfast Inn.

The four bedroom, four-and-a-half bath inn opened in May 2009 after Seaman invested hundreds of thousands of dollars of her life savings into the facility at 540 Shelby St., where she now lives.

"It was truly in abysmal shape when I purchased it," Seaman said. "The roof was leaking like a sieve, the entire house was covered with wisteria, ivy and various vines and there were raccoons living upstairs. When the real estate market turned down, I thought the logical thing to do was to hold the property and operate a bed and breakfast."

Seaman, whose late father, Jim Seaman Sr., founded Seaman Timber Co. and built it into a $60 million business before selling it, said she is honored to return home and contribute to the community she grew up in.

Previously, Seamon lived in Birmingham's Forest Park neighborhood and served as owner of Carriage House Weddings facility in Homewood, a facility she sold a few years ago. She said Fox & Pheasant Inn, which hosts weddings, receptions and caters events for the University of Montevallo and area businesses, is a return to her business roots.

"The greatest similarity is that I am still in the business of helping people have that special day or evening they have dreamed of, whether it is their wedding day or a much-needed romantic getaway."

Fox & Pheasant Inn's four bedrooms, bathrooms and dining rooms have been upgraded with decor Seaman says is reminiscent of the home in its heyday.

The house was built in 1915 by W.E. Reynolds, the oldest son of Henry Clay Reynolds, the first president of the Girls Industrial School, now known as the University of Montevallo. "The Reynolds family was very entrepreneurial and has a very colorful past," she said.

Mary Lou Williams, president of the Montevallo Chamber of Commerce, said The Fox & Pheasant Inn complements the McKibbon House, another bed-and-breakfast in Montevallo.

"Guests attending weddings at one of Montevallo's venues enjoy proximity to the event sites if they stay here in town," Williams said. "The Fox & Pheasant is an especially inviting event site. She has worked hard to make the pieces fit together and has made the Fox & Pheasant a great fit in Montevallo."

Seaman said the recession didn't make her fearful of investing in a bed and breakfast.

"After studying the market it seemed to me that people were looking for more reasonable ways to vacation and this is a great way to relax and have a great time without spending a lot of money," she said. "It also fills a need in our community for luncheons and dinners for groups attending functions at the University of Montevallo or American Village."

Newest bed and breakfast opens in Montevallo

By Cassandra Mickens | Shelby County Reporter
Published Monday, July 27, 2009

MONTEVALLO - Its impossible to step inside the Fox and Pheasant Inn, Montevallos newest bed and breakfast, and not feel a sense of relaxation.

Evoking such a feeling is exactly what owner Janice Seaman was going for when she bought and restored a two-story, four bedroom, four-and-a-half-bath house on Shelby Street last year.

Seaman will receive her first guests in August. The home is also available for weddings, receptions and other social events. A friend of Seamans suggested the name Fox and Pheasant to reflect the homes cozy, country dcor.

Seaman offers a brief history of the home as she leads guests on a tour. The house was built in 1915 by W.B. Reynolds, the son of Capt. Henry Clay Reynolds. Capt. Reynolds was the first president of Alabama College, now the University of Montevallo.

The original pewter wall sconces in the formal dining room are paired with contemporary furnishings, meshing the homes rich past with todays style.

"Weve tried to maintain the homes character, but weve done things to make it modern and fun," Seaman said.

Seamans modern twist includes a new commercial stove and oven, a stainless steel refrigerator and sink and granite countertops in the kitchen as well as the expansion of the homes bathrooms.

"We wanted to have very deluxe baths," said Seaman, noting each bathtub and shower is uniquely designed.

The king and queen suites boast their own style, ranging from elegant Victorian and English country to masculine paisley. Each room has its own fireplace.

"Our bedding, linens and towels are of the very highest quality," Seaman said. "Thats very important to me."

Guests may also relax outside the home on the screened porch just off the living room or the back deck overlooking an English country garden, a pecan orchard and a gazebo.

Seaman plans to add recreational events to the Fox and Pheasants schedule, including croquet and badminton tournaments in the front yard.

"Were a bed and breakfast and an avenue for events, but were also going to be a site for learning. We plan to do a lot of learning weekends were we have Pilates, yoga, photography and cooking," she said. "Weve had some fun here already and hope to have some more fun."

The Fox and Pheasant Inn is located at 540 Shelby St. For more information, call (205)665-3080.

2011 Fox & Pheasant Bed & Breakfast Inn