The hospitality industry has been in the DNA of the Dedman family for five generations, as innkeepers of Beaumont Inn in Harrodsburg, Ky. With 31 guest rooms, three restaurants and a spa on the property, the Dedmans’ business model is that of a full-service country inn and tourist destination. In keeping with that model, Beaumont Inn partnered with the increasingly popular Kentucky Bourbon Trail in 2012.
“We’re a perfect destination for people who come to do the Bourbon Trail,” said current innkeeper Dixon Dedman. “We are equidistant from all the major distilleries.”
Beaumont Inn has 85 bourbons on the menu and is in the process of releasing its own label, Kentucky Owl, which should be available by early next year. When the city of Harrodsburg went moist in 2003 (alcohol sales permitted with 100 seats and at least 70 percent of revenue derived from food sales), the Dedmans used the limestone foundation of a former carriage house on the property to build Old Owl Tavern, a 90-seat casual restaurant and bar.
“That became a real big draw for the locals,” Dedman said.
Demand for a casual restaurant with a bar was so great, in fact, Beaumont Inn added the Owl’s Nest Pub near the inn’s main restaurant in 2009. Local industries in Harrodsburg were expanding even through the economic downturn, so between corporate travelers and the popularity of “staycation” getaways for people in neighboring cities and states, Beaumont Inn weathered the storm and is in a good position to continue growing.
“You don’t stay in business for 100 years without being able to adapt and fight through those tough times,” Dedman said. “You make changes and hunker down when you need to.”
Employing about 60 people during its high season in the summer, Beaumont Inn also stays booked during the spring and fall meets of Keeneland. Thanksgiving is the inn’s biggest day of the year.
Beaumont Inn’s main building houses guestrooms, a gift shop and a fine-dining restaurant. It was built around 1845.
“We still operate within the original footprint of the main building,” Dedman said. In the 1930s, three other buildings for lodging were added to the grounds: Greystone Hall, Goddard Hall and Bell Cottage.
“There are not very many properties nationwide, still family-owned and operated, that are our size and offer as much as we offer,” Dedman said.
Formerly an institute of higher learning for women, Beaumont Inn was known as Daughters College and then Beaumont College from the mid-1800s until the school closed in 1916. Dedman’s great-great-grandmother, Annie Bell Goddard, purchased the property in 1917. She had been the dean of Beaumont College, and the grounds soon became a place for visiting alumni to stay. As Goddard fed and housed them, Beaumont Inn was born.
The second-generation innkeeper was her daughter, Pauline Goddard Dedman, whose son, Thomas Curry Dedman, followed in the family footsteps. One of his children, Charles “Chuck” Dedman, was the fourth generation to run Beaumont Inn. Today he and his wife, Helen, still live on the property and are semi-retired. Their son, Dixon Dedman, is the fifth-generation proprietor.
“We have a 2-year-old little girl we’re trying to train to wash dishes and bus tables,” Dixon Dedman said. His wife, Elizabeth, also works at the inn, as have spouses and siblings in the Dedman family throughout the years.
Dixon Dedman majored in English and sociology at Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C., but knew he would come back to work at Beaumont Inn.
“I graduated on a Sunday, and my dad said, ‘See you at work on Thursday,’” he said.
That was 10 years ago, and now Dixon Dedman is handling day-to-day operations of the inn and the restaurants.
“Ultimately it means that before the day is over, I’ll bus a few tables, wash a few dishes and fry a little chicken,” he said. “That’s the fun part. I would never survive at a desk. I’d never do very well if I had to look at a computer screen all the time.”
He remembers his grandfather, the third-generation innkeeper, telling him that three factors contributed to the success of the inn. The first was the automobile, which made travel easy. The second was Duncan Hines, the original travel writer and Bowling Green, Ky., native who was a huge fan of the inn’s food. The third was — and still is — Shaker Village.
“We send guests back and forth,” Dedman said of the nearby tourist attraction. “Shaker Village is a wonderful asset to this community and a good partner in tourism for us here at the inn.”
For more information about Beaumont Inn, visit www.beaumontinn.com.