201 8th Street Baraboo, Wisconsin
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Updated Cleaning Procedures due to COVID-19

We here at the Ringling House Bed & Breakfast are licensed, inspected and insured and use the utmost of safety and precautions and adhere to all the required guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our dedication to cleanliness and  hospitality is our commitment to you. Our guests are like family.  So if you must travel, our inn may be the right spot for you.  Here are some of the changes we are making in order to keep our guests safe during this challenging time.

Fewer People in a Bed & Breakfast

First of all, a Bed & Breakfast is small. we only have 6 rooms, and could have a maximum of 12 people in the house at a time.   Much less than the standard hotel, and therefore, much less chance of catching the contagion.

Check in changes

We are asking guests to wear masks upon check in and to social distance around the common area’s of the house.   We are also asking guest to wait at the back door until we open it for them, to give us time to check in one guest, before bringing in another.

Food Changes

Our breakfast is typically served family style in our dining room at Henry Ringling’s dining room table.    Now, per the Wisconsin mandate #72, we now will be delivering breakfast to peoples rooms, serving on the front porch or dining room, with a staggered start time, and distancing everyone more than  6 feet apart.

In lieu of  the wine and cheese happy hour on the weekend, we will be bringing people a “mini bottle” of wine or champagne and/or a snack to their room or on the front porch.

Baraboo also has many restaurants that have curbside pick up now or dining inside/outside with social distancing in mind,  outside of the breakfast that is served here at the Bed & Breakfast.   You can pick up your dinner, and eat it in a mansion!  How’s that for the new normal?

Sanitation Additions

We are not only cleaning the rooms, but going through and sanitizing any surface that would frequently be touched like remotes, keys, faucets, light switches, chair arms, etc, in between each guest change.  We also have disinfecting wipes placed around the house for people to use before/after touching something.

We have invested in some UVC sanitation lights.   This is an extra step to room cleaning that we  have started implementing.   UVC sanitation light is used in hospitals to sterilize operating rooms.  It efficiently kills up to 99% of bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms in our bedrooms, bathrooms, and common areas, including COVID-19.

We want to be sure that our guests are not only comfortable with our amenities, but with our sanitation methods when they are ready to travel again.  This will be the “New Normal” for us until the virus threat has significantly tapered off.

What’s to do?

The good thing about Baraboo are so many outdoor areas and parks to explore.  It’s easy to practice “social distancing” while enjoying the great outdoors.   Indoors, we also have many games you can borrow and play inside your room or another area in our elegant home.  Our rooms are all equipped with internet-enabled smart TV’s, and our music rooms are equipped with several musical options.    So, come experience the fun part of travel!

Coupled with our  naturally limited occupancy levels, enhanced sanitation procedures, modified breakfast options, and multiple entertainment selections, we hope you will consider the Ringling House Bed & Breakfast as a safe and comfortable lodging option!

 

Quarantine Rooms in Baraboo, WI

We are now providing quarantine rooms for anyone needing to self-isolate for a period of time.   Health care professionals, delivery people, tradespeople, checkout people, basically anyone in an essential job that has been exposed to the COVID-19 virus.  We want to be able to help anyone out on the front lines, who are taking risks to help the rest of us out.

This is how it works:

Schedule a stay for a specified period of time for quarantine, and stay in your room.   Here is what we will help you with:

  1.  We would provide breakfast to your room daily, delivered to your door, at a time you specify.
  2. We will pick up orders from restaurants in the area, and deliver them to your door.
  3. We provide fresh towels and linens on a regular basis.
  4. We will wash your clothes.
  5. We have free high speed wifi for you to do work in your room, and keep in touch with family and friends.
  6. We have a smart TV with free Netflix access in your room.
  7. Each room has a private attached bathroom for your use.
  8. We can communicate via text or phone call for your food orders, daily check in, and/or other needs.

You are expected to stay in your room at all times if you are using our home for this service, to limit exposure to us, and any other guests we may have.  At this point, price is negotiable, so give us a call if interested at 608-356-4229.  Do not book online for this service!

The New Normal in the COVID-19 Lodging

Over the last week at the Ringling House Bed & Breakfast, we have gone from creating bookings and turning people away because we do not have any rooms available, to an empty house.   From one person running the Bed & Breakfast with some staff, to having my recently laid off partner at home helping.   So by empty, we mean we don’t have any guests in our guest rooms.

Therefore for us, there are no worries that we will catch the virus from traveling guests, but there is a lot of worry, that at some point we will not be able to pay our bills.    We also understand the fear of our guests that are calling to cancel their stay, either the event that they were coming for has been cancelled, that they no longer want to travel via public transport, and are self-quarantining,  afraid to leave their house – much less travel anywhere.  Their workplace may have closed, or have been laid off and have no income.   When calling to cancel a reservation, many of our customers have taken a refund in the form of a gift certificate, which helps us immensely.  Thank you to those that have chosen that option!

Needless to say, this pandemic has created a lot of fear.   Here at the Ringling House Bed & Breakfast we have decided that we need to change the way we do some things, some by choice, others by mandate.   We hope to get people coming back to Baraboo after this “quarantine” ends, because, people are people, and they are still going to be scared.   I guess we will characterize these changes  as the “New Normal”.

Fewer People in a Bed & Breakfast

First of all, a Bed & Breakfast is small. we only have 6 rooms, and could have a maximum of 12 people in the house at a time.   Much less than the standard hotel, and therefore, much less chance of catching the contagion.

Check in changes

We are asking guests to wear masks upon check in and around the common area’s of the house.   We are also asking guest to wait at the back door until we open it for them, to give us time to check in one guest, before bringing in another.

Food Changes

Our breakfast is typically served family style in our dining room at Henry Ringling’s dining room table.    Now, per the Wisconsin mandate #72, we now will be delivering breakfast to peoples rooms, serving on the front porch or dining room, with a staggered start time, and distancing everyone more than  6 feet apart.

In lieu of  the wine and cheese happy hour on the weekend, we will be bringing people a “mini bottle” of wine or champagne and/or a snack to their room.

Baraboo also has many restaurants that have curbside pick up now or dining inside/outside with social distancing in mind,  outside of the breakfast that is served here at the Bed & Breakfast.   You can pick up your dinner, and eat it in a mansion!  How’s that for the new normal?

Sanitation Additions

We are not only cleaning the rooms, but going through and sanitizing any surface that would frequently be touched like remotes, keys, faucets, light switches, chair arms, etc, in between each guest change.  We also have disinfecting wipes placed around the house for people to use before/after touching something.

We want to be sure that our guests are not only comfortable with our amenities, but with our sanitation methods when they are ready to travel again.  This will be the “New Normal” for us until the virus threat has significantly tapered off.

What’s to do?

The good thing about Baraboo are so many outdoor areas and parks to explore.  It’s easy to practice “social distancing” while enjoying the great outdoors.   Indoors, we also have many games you can borrow and play inside your room or another area in our elegant home.  Our rooms are all equipped with internet-enabled smart TV’s, and our music rooms is equipped with several musical options.    So, come experience the fun part of travel!

Coupled with our  naturally limited occupancy levels, enhanced sanitation procedures, modified breakfast options, and multiple entertainment selections, we hope you will consider the Ringling House Bed & Breakfast as a safe and comfortable lodging option!

Sincerely,

Julie Hearley & Stuart Koehler

Innkeepers, Ringling House Bed & Breakfast.

Friends of the Charles & Henry Ringling Estate

Henry Ringling

Charles Ringling

The Friends of the Charles & Henry Ringling Estate, is a nonprofit group established to improve and protect the Ringling estate off Eighth Street in Baraboo.   The estate that sits on the corner 8th and Ash St. is the only home built and lived in  by two separate Ringling Brothers of circus fame.   The one-acre estate includes the main house, which operates as a bed-and-breakfast; the carriage house; a cottage; and a barn.

The first fund raiser for the non-profit called “Phantom Carnival” is being set up in a carriage house behind the bed-and-breakfast, and will expand to cover part of the lawn out back. Where once circus impresarios’ horses whinnied, this fall visitors will shriek.

The non-profit hopes to run the haunted house for two years, then convert the carriage house into an event center. This will require replacing the 1901 building’s original wiring, and adding bathrooms and a kitchen.

The Ringling home and surrounding property was owned by the circus family for a century before Koehler and Hearley bought it in 2015 and opened their bed-and-breakfast. The Colonial Revival home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Koehler and Hearley have become active participants in local affairs, helping to launch events such as the downtown Cocoa Crawl and First Night celebration. Their short-term goal in hosting a haunted house for young adults is to create an entertaining Halloween event: Their long-term goal is to create a place for all types of community events.

 

Gas Lighting in the Victorian Age

Gas-or Electric-or Both?  How homes were “lit” in the Victorian Age.

When we give tours of the Charles Ringling Home on 8th and Ash streets in Baraboo, we always like to point out the modern conveniences that were incorporated into Charles’ (and later Henry’s) state of the art home. This home had most, if not all of the features we now take for granted in the 21st century. Even though the home had indoor plumbing, indoor heating, electricity, an intercom system, a fire suppression system and an elevator, I’d like to focus on an earlier type of illumination that was built into the Ringling home—gas lighting.

When commercial gas became available in the early 19th century, a new way of lighting was available for the first time. Although municipal water and sewer service was also available at the time, it took many years to implement, and often residential and commercial gas service was available first.

The gas that was used to light spaces during the Gaslight era was coal gas. It was similar to natural gas, and was manufactured by heating coal in an oven that was sealed to keep oxygen out. The gas was purified, filtered and pressurized which was then piped to homes, businesses and even street lights!

In the late 19th and early 20th century, electricity gradually replaced gas as the source of lighting, and a period of dual-fuel (gas and electric) fixtures were developed over a period of about 20 years as part of the transition.

What were the requirements for installation of these unique hybrid fixtures?

Well, the most important one was that the actual lighted bowl had to be kept a safe distance away from any materials that it might ignite. The second reason was that the gas to the fixture was turned on and off with a valve, or valves, that were built into it. Because the flame had to be lit after the gas was turned on, the fixture had to be easy to reach — either from the floor or with the use of a small step-stool.  

The way you can tell the real from the fake, if you see any of these fixtures in a Victorian era home, will be as hanging fixtures or wall sconces. They will have open bowls, usually made of glass and hold the lighted mantle and a light bulb in separate holders. The open bowl was needed to allow the products of the combustion to escape and also directed most of the light upward.

We actually have one of these dual-fuel fixtures in the library of the Ringling Home that has survived and is hanging in its original location!

Next time you are in the area, please check our tour times, or better yet, reserve a room at this historic home! A full house tour is included with all reservations.

 

Source material from “The Spruce” by Bill Lewis, 02/15/2017

https://www.thespruce.com/the-gaslight-era-2175011

The Houses that George Built—an Isenberg Retrospect

A few years ago, Margie Isenberg Abel stopped in Baraboo on a trip through Wisconsin, and that trip piqued her interest about her family’s links to Sauk County history. She knew of local kin Jim Isenberg (who is a second cousin), and wanted to learn more. With help from author Jerry Apps, a local Ringling historian, Abel contacted relatives of George Isenberg in Germany. She learned that three of seven Isenberg brothers left the family carpentry business to come to America. Two of the brothers, George and Carl, started Isenberg Brothers in Sauk City before moving to Baraboo. Here they built several landmark structures that, despite being built more than a century ago, remain vibrant institutions.

Then about 2 years ago, The Isenberg great-granddaughters returned for a week to Baraboo, intent on researching the indelible imprint the Isenberg buildings left on Baraboo. They came from Kansas and New Hampshire to see the Baraboo Library, the Al. Ringling Mansion, St. John’s Lutheran Church, the Ringling House Bed & Breakfast and the Van Orden Mansion – all built by their Isenberg ancestors.

“They were unbelievable mansions for that time,” said Margie Isenberg Abel, the chief family researcher.

They compared notes with Executive Director Paul Wolter of the Sauk County Historical Society, about the construction company run by their great-grandfather and his brother George.

“They were, bar none, the premier builders of Sauk County,” Wolter said.

 

There were seven sons and three daughters in the Isenberg family. George, being the youngest son, was educated in Germany, and as a youth was apprenticed to the trade of carpenter. In 1885, he immigrated to the United States, and once arriving in Sauk County, he eventually took up residence in Baraboo, where he lived without interruption-although in the interest of his business affairs, he resided for short periods at other places. For three or four years he was employed as a carpenter by his brother Karl, with whom he eventually formed a partnership, and the firm of Isenberg Brothers grew to be one of the leading contracting and building concerns in this part of the state. During this time the brothers erected many of the largest buildings in Baraboo, including all the Ringling buildings, and in 1912 George Isenberg went to Florida, where he erected the winter home for Charles and Edith Ringling.

 

Margie Isenberg Abel of Kansas, Ann Isenberg of New Hampshire and Carol Isenberg Dillon of Kansas, sitting on the stirs of the Van Orden Mansion, one the homes constructed by Carl and George Isenberg.

 

 

 

Thanks to Ben Bromley of the Baraboo news Republic and the Archives of the Wisconsin Historical Society for Information in the preparation of this piece.

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