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Whitetail Ridge Lodge

By Kate Minnich Writer & Designer Published: September 1, 2016 12:00 AM
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Artfully placed among the rolling hills of Holmes County, Whitetail Ridge Lodge provides visitors with the opportunity to enjoy the area for an extended period. Driving down the back roads, it is easy to be mesmerized by the tranquility and beauty especially when the brilliantly colored leaves are in abundance.

The couple who originally built the 4,400 square foot lodge in 2002 intended it to be a forever home. Living in the partially finished barn next to the home, the couple oversaw every minute detail of the construction; importing Canadian timbers to support and accent the vaulted ceiling and selecting custom stones for the fireplaces on the upper and lower levels. The result was a gorgeous residence exactly as the couple imagined, but alas the dream was not meant to be achieved.

A short time after the home was finished, the husband was diagnosed with a chronic illness that required constant care from a facility in Cleveland. Faced with the reality of the commute time, the wife put her dream home up for sale.

Around this same time Tom and Kelly Esselburn were beginning to make plans for their retirement and the future of their family farm. The plan is to eventually turn over the daily operations and responsibilities to their children, including the farm house. After reading about the secluded home online, Tom and Kelly went to see the property. Tom immediately felt at peace at the home and about the decision. on the plot and graceful home .

With retirement still a ways down the road, the Esselburns needed a way to offset the cost of owning two substantial properties, thus decided to share the home with others. Naming the property, Whitetail Ridge Lodge, and inspired by lodging available at the Outerbanks, the home has been opened to people looking to enjoy the tranquility of Holmes County.

The vision was to create a lodge that would be family accessible, both in the layout and the available amenities. With five children of their own, Tom and Kelly know well the situations where a child just wants a peanut butter sandwich. Designed as a home, the lodge is equipped with a full kitchen and guests are welcome to cook as much as they would like.

Capable of hosting three couples comfortably, Whitetail Ridge Lodge is only available for one group at time. Not wanting to place strangers together within the shared space, Kelly and Tom offer the lodge as a whole to a group stressing the availability of three large beds in separate rooms. The availability of multiple rooms allows for parents to put a child down for a nap or stay up later in the evening once the children are asleep. When booking the lodge, guests shouldn't be too worried about the number of guests verse beds as children are often the exception and will camp out in one of the common areas.

Furnishing the home with their family and the families of others in mind, Kelly pulled pieces from various locations in order to make the lodge comfortable. Several pieces of furniture were purchased through auctions while others were bought from local craftsmen. The dining table in the great room is something out a fairy tale. With the ability to seat 12 comfortably, the custom made table encourages large groups to sit and have a meal together.

The lower level of the home is equipped with a whiskey barrel table perfect for games. Meant to function as a retreat for the rowdy game players, this table placement allows for the volume to rise without disturbing everyone else in the lodge. The Esselburns have tested the lodge's capabilities with their own extended family and the game table allowed the cousins to get loud and have fun together without having to be shushed by parents.

With the leaves changing to brilliant colors, the forest surrounding the lodge will be breath taking. Built with a plethora of windows, the fall foliage and wildlife grandeur can be viewed throughout the lodge. There doesn't seem to be a room lacking a great view, even the luxurious tub in the first floor master bath is positioned to observe the herd of deer who regularly visit the grounds. For those who enjoy a walk in the woods, guests are more than welcome to hike through the 72 acre forest.

The lodge also offers a covered, open air porch that encourages guests to enjoy the outdoors well into the evenings. Children may catch lightening bugs while parents lounge on the porch reveling in the joyous squeals. Or the family may choose to play a card game on the outdoor table, simply enjoying the sounds of the forest at night. A stone fireplace at one end of the porch gives off enough heat to warm the good sized space, eliminating the need to go inside if the evening turns chilly.

Whether you choose to visit on a day trip or overnight, Whitetail Ridge Lodge offers an abundance of activities for a variety of interests. The quiet atmosphere and surrounding forest offer a retreat from the general noise and humdrum of populated areas. But the lodge is not so remote as to completely be cut off from other activities. Neatly positioned between Loudonville and Millersburg, just outside of Nashville, the lodge offers the opportunity to visit Amish country or go canoeing at Mohican State Park. Just about everyone's interests can be satisfied when the Whitetail Ridge Lodge is used as a home base.

Whitetail Ridge Lodge is located at 13058 Township Road 223 in Big Prairie. For more information and reservations, guests may call 330-496-2091 or visit whitetailridgelodge.com.


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