Third bed and breakfast planned for Donaldsonville
129 Lessard Street in Donaldsonville wasn’t just another old house on the block, which happened to be in the Historic District. It was a gem in the rough – a hidden diamond – as owner Jeffery Bean calls it. Sixteen years ago, Bean and Michael Smith bought the house on the corner of Lessard and Iberville Streets with leaking ceilings, rotten floors, busted windows and much more. Today it stands as Bean and Smith’s home, but by summer of 2014 is planned to be the next Bed and Breakfast called “The Raylin House of Donaldsonville.” “Immediately with a home like this, most of them go on to be commercial offices: attorney’s office, doctor’s office, and they lose that historical integrity,” Bean said. “We wanted it to stay a home.” For over 40 years, the house served as three individual apartments, but since Bean and Smith’s purchase has been restored to serve its original purpose. Bean said they gutted all of the apartment walls that divided the insides because they knew it would serve as a great bed and breakfast. “It’s been a long plan but we’re here and we’re ready,” Bean said. “I could see it had the potential of becoming a really amazing house.” The Raylin House of Donaldsonville is planned to have three luxury suites with private baths, private sitting rooms, and outdoor amenities such as an in-ground pool, outdoor kitchen and much more. But you can’t have a bed and breakfast without is key component: breakfast. “It’s a perfect time for that,” Bean said. “It seems like there is an interest for the bed and breakfasts versus the hotels.” The timing for the new B and B in Donaldsonville is merely perfect as the industry expansion takes off in the area. Bean said the date set to open The Raylin House was set last year, even before he knew about the industrial expansion. “I think it’s also the Lord’s will,” Bean said. “We’re reaching out to the refineries to hope house a lot of their professionals. I know they are interested.” However Bean is certain that even if the industry expansion doesn’t turn as successful as expected “we haven’t lost anything.” “It would be a wonderful boost for Donaldsonville but we’re going forward with this either way,” Bean said. Even before the plants’ announcements, Bean had a plan to promote Donaldsonville as well as the Raylin House of Donaldsonville to bring people to the area. “We’re going to do all kinds of things to draw more people to Donaldsonville.” Bean plans to have spa weekends and different clubs and groups coming. He said just all kinds of things to market besides just the average “honey mooners, anniversary couple and just people coming in for tourism.” The Raylin House of Donaldsonville will be the third bed and breakfast in the city’s Historical District and Bean said they’ve already been working with The Victorian and Cabahanossee to form the first Bed and Breakfast Association in Donaldsonville, hoping to call it “The Lights of the Mississippi.” Apart from just restoring an old building in Donaldsonville, Bean has come across the history of it as well that includes information of the original owners from the 1800s. “There’s a lot of history in this house,” Bean said. “It will be a draw for people to come in and learn.” With a background in interior design, Bean got his start working at the Myrtles Plantation in St. Francisville. The Myrtles’ attraction was partly due to so many stories about the ghosts and the owners, all of which never really had any fact behind it. “I’m finding the stories about this place are real stories and have truth to it, not just what people tell me,” Bean said.