May 15, 2003
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Morgan B & B to close doors

Morgan House, Yellow Springs’ only licensed bed and breakfast, will close its doors on May 31 after 18 years of hosting visitors to the village.

“It’s been a labor of love,” said Marianne Britton, the proprietor of the Morgan House. “I’ve learned a lot about people. I’d do it again in a minute if I could.”

Britton said that she is closing Morgan House reluctantly. After struggling with illness for several years, she recently decided to leave her demanding business, she said, in order to “get my health back on track.” Britton plans to move to a rental house in Yellow Springs for the near future.

An auction of Morgan House furnishings will take place on Saturday, June 7, at 10 a.m., at the Morgan House, 120 West Limestone Street.

Since it opened in 1986, the Morgan House has hosted thousands of visitors in its four guest rooms in the historic brick three-story building. As well as tourists and relatives of local residents, the Morgan House provided accommodations for visitors to Antioch College and Antioch University, parents of Antioch College students, participants in the Antioch Writers’ Workshop and visiting artists at the local schools, said Britton, who is also an artist.

“You get to see a slice of the world,” she said of her work. “It was eye-opening. You get to sit down and talk and learn about so many different cultures.”

Designed and built in 1921 by former Antioch College President Arthur Morgan and his wife, Lucy, the Morgan House served as their residence for many years. After the Morgans left Yellow Springs, the college used the building as a dormitory and later as an office building, Britton said.

Soon after she arrived in Yellow Springs in the mid-1980s, Britton said, she visited a friend in a Morgan House office and fell in love with the building. When she later heard that Antioch planned to abandon the building because of its poor physical condition, Britton approached the college with a plan for a bed and breakfast. After extensive negotiations with the university and Greene County building officials, Britton said, her plan was approved.

Britton, who came to Yellow Springs from California to apprentice with sculptor Jon Hudson, did considerable remodeling and redecorating work, including painting, plastering and making repairs, she said. In return, she received from Antioch University a 20-year lease with “very favorable terms,” according to the Antioch University vice chancellor, Glenn Watts.

Both Watts and Britton expressed disappointment that the Morgan House, for now, will not be used as a bed and breakfast.

“I’d like to see it continue as a bed and breakfast,” Watts said. “There aren’t many places in town for visitors to stay.”

Britton said she worked hard to ensure that the business would continue, and requested that university officials allow her to break the lease so that it could be renegotiated with a former Morgan House employee who wants to run the business. While the university remains open to Britton subleasing the business to someone else, it is not willing to break Britton’s lease, Watts said, and continues to hold her responsible for the rent for the next two years.

Britton said that she is not interested in subleasing the business because such an arrangement requires that she live on the premises, which she feels would undermine her health. Consequently, she plans to continue paying rent, but will leave the building empty.

Though Britton said she has heard rumors that the university has plans for the building, Watts said that as long as Britton pays the rent, it will remain empty.

—Diane Chiddister