Happy Holidays from Ron Ketelsen at the Roseboro in Sharon Springs, NY!
Well, no one could ever have guessed the changes that would transpire in my life in 2014! What an amazing year! I went from being a Human Resource Consultant in Silicon Valley to a gentleman farmer and a hotelier in Sharon Springs, New York. It all began last December, when I took a trip to Sharon Springs to visit some friends. Sharon Springs is a very small village – 45 minutes northwest of Albany. The historic village of Sharon Springs has a whopping population of 578 people.
It all began when I attended the Victorian Holiday Celebration in early December of last year and fell in love with this unique village. During my visit, I discovered that a massive historic hotel called the Roseboro was for sale. Most people would look at it as a money-pit. I looked at it as a huge opportunity and bought it!
I made an offer to buy the hotel on January 9th and my offer was accepted a few days later. This presented some interesting challenges for me. I had two homes in California that needed to be sold. My Bel Air home was my dream home and I had just finished remodeling it to be a real show-place. I also had a 4-story town-house in Silicon Valley. I never dreamed that I would be selling both homes and moving a lifetime of belongings to upstate New York. Fortunately, I had plenty of room for my belongings as the hotel had 135 vacant quest rooms.
I fully expected my Bel Air house to sell quickly as the market in Silicon Valley has been so hot. The issue with the house was that I remodeled it to fit my needs – not for resale. It was an amazing house, but for all practical purposes, it only had one bedroom. While it did have 2 other bedrooms, I converted the others into an office and a room to hold my antiques. When it went on the market, there was a LOT of interest. However, the bedroom situation created a problem for most buyers. To top it off, I was the target of a real estate scam. A man “claimed” he was from New York and the CEO of a company that was moving to Silicon Valley, made a full-price offer on the house. He wanted an immediate close and was paying cash. (Lesson learned – when something sounds too good to be true – it probably is!) He was a total fake. All too soon, I learned that his financials, along with all of his stories were completely made up. As it turned out, he had pulled the same scheme to several other people who were selling homes in nearby neighborhoods. No one can figure out his motive – other than he has a mental problem. That ordeal cost me almost a month and a half delay in getting the house sold, as I had taken it off the market and completely “unstaged” it. The police said they would not get involved as “they had more serious crimes to deal with.” I finally sold the house to a wonderful couple from Canada. The husband works for Apple Computers. They were thrilled with the house.
I made my annual pilgrimage to Hawaii in February to spend a week with my sister, her husband and my cousins, Randy and Maureen Ketelsen who own a house in Hawaii Kai. I took my long-time friend, Diana Nollen, from Cedar Rapids with me on the trip. We had a great time! The Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki is where I always stay. I am looking forward to another trip there again this February. This year, I am taking my Project Manager, Gary O’Connor and his wife Karen along on the trip. They have never been to Hawaii and it has been on their wish list. It should be a fun trip!
After being a Human Resource Consultant for CPP, Inc (the Myers-Briggs Company) for over 3 years, I completed my work for them and started working as a consultant for the Santa Clara Valley Water District in San Jose. I absolutely loved working at CPP, Inc in Mountain View, CA – on the Google campus and was sad when my work came to an end. Such wonderful people and a great company!
I made several trips to Sharon Springs, NY in preparation for my move. I visited in late January and attended the Beekman Boys winter party. I returned again in May for the Annual Garden Party. I met with my Project Manager, Gary O’Connor, during my visit and we made lots of plans for the Roseboro renovation. It was great to see so many friends in Sharon Springs. For only having been there a few times, I had already met tons of new people. While I was there, a couple of newspapers ran stories on the renovation project.
Summer flew by. I spent most of it preparing to move and keeping my gardens in top shape. They looked amazing this year and it was so sad to know that I would be leaving so many of my wonderful plants behind.
September was a VERY busy month for me. I flew back to New York to attend the Sharon Springs Fall Harvest Party. After months of delays, I finally closed on the Roseboro properties right before the festival. I hosted a champagne Kick-Off Party for the Renovation Project during the festival. We served over 600 glasses of champagne in less than an hour. So many wonderful people came to see the Roseboro and share in the exciting new beginnings. My good friends, Maria Vought and the O’Connor family were such a great help with preparing for the celebration. Deanna O’Costa and Zhanneta Rabayeva made enough appetizers for 700 people and did an amazing job.
In October, my good friend from Iowa, Marcy Chaussee, came to visit for 3 weeks to help me pack and prepare to move to New York. What a great helper! I could not have made the move without her help. Since I was moving to snow country and only had a 4-wheel drive truck, I bought a 4-wheel drive Ford F150. I also bought a 16′ enclosed trailer. I loaded it with my antique square grand piano, my 1901 Oldsmobile and my antique sleigh – all treasure I could not leave behind. Marcy kept telling me that I should get rid of stuff before i moved, but I kept saying, “But, I have tons of room to store things in the hotel.
It took 2 semi trucks to bring my belongings to Sharon Springs. On October 22nd, I took off for Sharon Springs, NY with my Ford truck and trailer in tow and my two Himalayan cats to keep me company. I was leery how the cats would do traveling that long across country. They did great! They had the whole backseat area of the truck (with the seats folded up) and were quite comfortable. They took turns sitting in the passenger seat to keep me company. I headed to Friendsville, TN, where I dropped off the square grand piano for restoration. Michael Sinnett from the Antique Piano Shop is a world renowned piano restoration expert and will be doing an excellent job on completely restoring the piano which will go in the front lobby of the Roseboro Hotel.
I arrived in Sharon Springs on Saturday, October 25th. I decided rather than staying at the Roseboro as originally planned, I would rent Longhollow Farm from my good friend Tom Coyne in NYC. It is a beautiful farm and I am so happy living there.
The first of the two semis with my belongings arrived on Monday morning, October 27th. With the help of Gary O’Connor and several of the movers, we unloaded the semi. It took us two days to unload everything and get it all up to the 2nd floor. Karen O’Connor and Maria Vought had worked diligently the week prior to my arrival to get the 2nd floor of the hotel cleaned out and ready for my belongings. The 2nd truck did not arrive for a week. We ended up with so much stuff, that we even used the 1st floor to store things temporarily.
With the Sharon Springs Victorian Holiday Celebration fast approaching on the first weekend in December, I had a lot to do as the new Festival Chairman. I was determined to expand the festival from a one-day festival to a 3-day festival. Many newly expanded events were made possible by the use of the Roseboro. Project Manager Gary O’Connor had a very tight schedule to get the ballroom ready in time for the festival. We put in all new electrical wiring in the ballroom and put in 12 new chandeliers and 13 new sconces. Karen O’Connor, Maria Vought and Zhanneta Rabayeva hand-strung the crystal chandeliers. They looked amazing once they were all hung and lit.
Our mission for the Victorian Holiday Celebration was to turn the Roseboro Ballroom into a Winter Wonderland. The last official event held in the Ballroom was in 1965. With the help of many wonderful Sharon Springs volunteers, we accomplished it. One of the new events this year was the Festival of Trees. Many businesses, organizations and individuals decorated trees for the event. We had more vendors than ever before and I ended up using every inch of the first floor of the Roseboro for the festival. We had an ice storm on the Friday night of the celebration; however, it did not stop the dye-hard Victorian clad festival goers from coming to Sharon Springs. We had a great crowd and everyone had a wonderful time. Now, my challenge is to find more space in the Roseboro for next year’s festival. It will be even bigger and better than this year’s celebration!
With the Victorian Holiday Celebration behind me, I thought I would get some rest and relaxation. That was not to be! Through some good friends of mine in Sharon Springs, I learned of an animal rescue that was happening on a farm just a few miles from Longhollow Farm, where I live. In the back of my mind, I had been thinking about getting a horse to drive for the buggy, surrey, buckboard and sleighs I have. Little did I know that overnight, I would become a gentleman farmer. My farm neighbor next door, Jay Lavery and I had been talking about him getting some goats for his farm. When I heard about the rescue, I contacted Jay. He, Farmer John Hall and I went to the nearby farm to check out the animals that were in need of adoption. I came home with three horses, 2 goats and 7 ducks. With the help of Gary O’Connor, we built new stables in the barn at Longhollow Farm. I also built next duck pens and a new home for the goats. All of the animals are very happy in their new home. Still to come are some alpacas, some pygmy goats and some peacocks – possibly some chickens. I am really enjoying this farm life! Such a nice change from city life!
Christmas was spent in Iowa this year with my family. My mother is having health issues, so it was great to be able to spend some time with her. I had not been home in over a year, so a visit was long over-do. My niece just had a new baby, and I got to see him for the first time.
So, what’s ahead in 2015? Lots of exciting things for the Roseboro! My plans are to have the entire first floor of the Roseboro open by April 1st. That includes a family-style restaurant and several of my own shops. The ballroom should also be done and ready for events. I will work on putting in the gardens around the hotel. We will continue to work on the 2nd floor to put in more shops and the guest rooms. I am anticipating them to be done by the end of 2015. My plans are to make it a year-round facility. As the new President of the Sharon Springs Chamber of Commerce, I need to lead by example. I hope to encourage businesses to stay open year-round and give people a reason to come to Sharon Springs – even in the winter months!
I look forward to a happy and prosperous New Year and hope that you will all be a part of it in some way. Thanks so much for following our progress on the Facebook Roseboro Renovation Project Page and also on the Roseboro Blog. Please stop by and say hello or drop me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you!
P.O. Box 133
210 Main Street
Sharon Springs, NY 13459