Grove City borough’s only bed and breakfast has closed.
“It was time to move on,” Ryan Mercer said.
He and his wife Molly ran Terra Nova House Bed and Breakfast at 322 W. Poplar St. for the past eight years. Feb. 24 was the last day of business.
The Mercers had hoped to find someone who would take over the business, but no interested innkeepers came forward.
The house has been sold to a family that will use it as a private residence, Mercer said.
The Mercers, who live near the bed and breakfast, have two children, so the family’s schedule outside of Terra Nova has been getting busier.
“It’s very much a lifestyle type of business,” Mercer said.
They will remain in Grove City. Mercer does consulting for a software company, and his wife is chief financial officer of Slippery Rock University.
It’s a tough climate right now for the bed and breakfast industry due to online shopping, and home-sharing companies like Airbnb, he said.
Their occupancy rates have taken a hit in recent years, and home-sharing regulations are cheaper and less strict than the rules bed and breakfasts have to follow, Mercer said.
The Mercers thank their guests for their support. They have great memories of interacting with guests, especially those who became regulars.
Terra Nova proudly supported local businesses and restaurants. The Mercers say they will continue to be involved with the community.
“You have to support the local businesses,” said Mercer, who is also chair of the Grove City Planning Commission.
Working as innkeepers gave them a better sense of community, and they enjoyed collaborating with other businesses, the Grove City Area Chamber of Commerce, and Visitmercercounty PA.
Mercer recalled the work that he and his wife put into the property, which was previously operated as a bed and breakfast by Barry and Sandy Miller, and Janice and Clifford Brown.
The Browns converted the Victorian house – built around 1901 – into a bed and breakfast in 1997.
The Browns, who were faculty members at Grove City College, are believed to have chosen the name “Terra Nova” because it is Latin for “new land” and they were from Newfoundland, according to historical information the Mercers included in each guest room.
The Mercers, who previously lived in the Mars area, had been interested in running a bed and breakfast when they came across the Terra Nova listing; they credit God with leading them down that path.
“You may notice the ‘faith’ sign and the ‘With faith, all things are possible’ sign somewhere in the common areas. These are little reminders to Ryan and Molly and to our guests that God was instrumental in bringing the Mercers to Grove City and to the Terra Nova House B&B and with faith, all things are truly possible,” according to the historical information.
The Mercers put a lot of work into the property during their time as innkeepers.
“We completely gutted the whole third floor,” Mercer said.
That project was completed with help from a Visitmercercounty PA grant, and they lived on the third floor at one point.
The house has seven bedrooms, and the Mercers updated the bathrooms – there are six full bathrooms and two half-baths in the three-story structure.
Terra Nova House Bed and Breakfast received the James E. Winner Jr. Tourism Initiative Award in 2015, and Mercer has been part of the Western Pennsylvania Bed and Breakfast Association and Visitmercercounty PA.
Some of the furnishings were donated to local nonprofits, and guests have been leaving comments on the Terra Nova Facebook page, recalling memories of their stays.
“The Stillwaggons have lots of good memories at the Terra Nova House through the years. Sad to say ‘goodbye,’ but wish the Mercers much peace and happiness,” wrote Lynn Bashew Stillwaggon.
Others said that Terra Nova will be missed, and that the bed and breakfast provided wonderful hospitality.