Tuesday, July 16, 2019
The Hellsworth Inn Outcompetes a Chilly Night for Shivers
The Ellsworth Inn is located at 702 South 3rd Avenue across from the Hailey Fire Department.
Friday, November 2, 2018


What do you do when you want to get the word out about your inn?

The proprietors of the century-old Ellsworth Inn took an unusual tack.

They opened up the Inn at Ellsworth Estate up on Halloween night and invited Wood River Valley residents in for a good scare.

Steve Frye and Thomas Martinez were among five actors who created a memorable evening on Halloween.

A skeleton sitting on the stone wall surrounding the estate waved to passersby. And those who took the bait soon found themselves sifting their way through crunchy leaves that had fallen on the cemetery that had sprouted up on the front lawn.

A skeleton sat on the porch cradling a goblin goblet—it was, after all, cocktail hour.

And inside Thomas Martinez, Steve Frye and Anthony Karloski were only too eager to show visitors through a house of four-poster beds made eerie with a coffin in the front room, a cauldron of cider in the kitchen and a player piano imbuing the home with a shroud of spookiness.

A newlywed lay in bed in the honeymoon suite, chortling blood-curdling operatic notes at the top of her voice. And her husband—well, you wouldn’t believe where he was.

The expansive yard offers plenty of space for lawn games like croquet and horseshoes.

The final straw was a trip to the dungeon downstairs—“You can’t return the way you go,” a sign portended doom and gloom.

 “We thought there are many in the valley that don’t know about the Ellsworth Inn. So we thought this might be a good way to introduce them to it,” said Martinez, who manages the estate.

The elegant home was built as a private residence in 1915 for James MacDonald, whose father was a partner of Standard Oil’s John D. Rockefeller, and his new bride Beulah Lamb. It was built by Jack Rutter, who built the Liberty Theatre, Hailey Hotel and the Masonic Lodge.

The Fox family purchased the home in the 1930s and, after they departed, it served as a Mormon Church until the Ellsworth family purchased it in 1961. Sonja Tarnay restored it as a bed and breakfast inn in the 1980s and today the three-story inn puts guests up in four-poster beds accompanied by full breakfasts.

You’ll never guess where this newlywed’s husband turned up.

The nine-room inn also serves as a gathering place for weddings, reunions, birthday parties, business conferences and, now, things that go bump in the night.

You never know what you’re going to find in the vicinity of the hot water heater.

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