Standout property: Woldert-Spence Manor, Turnkey bed and breakfast ready to go

Published on Monday, 11 August 2014 10:31 - Written by Casey Murphy


Chris and Lisa Garrett didn’t know where Tyler was when they came across the historic Woldert-Spence Manor for sale.

The couple was living in Phoenix, Arizona, when they decided they wanted to try a different place and pace. Mrs. Garrett, 42, an engineer, and Garrett, 41, a hydrologist, searched for bed and breakfasts on the market in Texas, Oregon and Colorado when the Woldert-Spence Manor “popped out of the woodwork” and “stood out from the rest of the heap,” Garrett said.

The couple bought the manor in 2008 from Richard and Patricia Heaton. The bed and breakfast, which has eight bedrooms, was small enough that they could live there and run it themselves, Garrett said

It was a successful business that kept them busy, Garrett said, but after more than three years, they decided to move back to Phoenix to be closer to family in 2011. They hired an inn keeper but after more than a year, the job became too much, so they decided to close it down in March 2013 and put it on the market.

Blair Swaim, of Burns Commercial Properties, is the broker for the Garretts and said the historic bed and breakfast has been on the market for about a year, but he began representing the property about a month ago.

“This is a special niche as far as real estate,” Swaim said. “There aren’t that many turnkey bed and breakfasts that are ready to go.”

When Garrett searched all over Texas for a bed and breakfast in 2008, there were only a handful that were turnkey, equipped with everything needed, for sale.

“It was really enjoyable,” Garrett said of running the Woldert-Spence Manor. The downside was that it was an around-the-clock job. About half of their business came from guests during the week, and the weekends were “crazy busy,” he said.

Although they never got a full break from running the business, the plus side was the people they met, he said, adding that they had guests that came back often.

“They’re so familiar in your house, they’re almost like family,” he said. “If things were different in our personal lives, we’d probably still be running it.”

The six-bedroom house, with two additional garage-apartment style buildings behind it, located downtown and near the Azalea District is a positive for a bed and breakfast owner and an exciting aspect for guests to stay there, Swaim said.

Swaim said the history of the house makes the property even more unique.

“Interested buyers and operators of B&Bs really enjoy the history,” Swaim said.

During his time in Tyler, Garrett spent countless hours researching the history of the Woldert-Spence Manor and the people who built it.

“There were a lot of misconceptions about the house that we inherited,” Garrett said, adding that once he started to find information about the house and the Wolderts, it was “crazy how much there was.” He found a biography about John George Woldert, written by his son and the man he believes built the house, William Woldert, at the Smith County Historical Society. He also found fire insurance maps from the Sanborn Co. online, and in the Tyler Public Library, he found maps and old city directories.

The antique furniture is not original to the house because it had been nearly gutted by the previous owners, who renovated it in the 1990s. The last Woldert who lived there died in 1965, and after that, the house was rented and fell into disrepair, he said.

Garrett believes the 17 stain glass windows that run throughout the house are original and are a popular style from the 1800s, he found through his research.

For more information about the Woldert-Spence Manor, at 611 W. Woldert St., contact Swaim at 903-534-1200,