The House that Love Built
La Belle Auberge Bed & Breakfast, nestled in a garden at the corner of Norris and Main streets in Wellsboro, was built in 1907, capturing the refined beauty of Victorian architecture when, as legend has it, romantic contractor John W. Smith built the house as a surprise for his wife, Ida May. Over the years it has become known as the “house that love built,” but it was owner Nelle Rounsaville who, in 2002, turned the home into La Belle Auberge— French for “the beautiful inn”—and the Paris-like getaway it is today.
Nelle enhanced the charm of the home’s high ceilings, decorative stained glass windows, and grained-wood finishes by naming her guest rooms Paris, Jardins, Provence, and Pyrenees, further calling to mind the romance and beauty of France. The soft-lighted rooms are warmed with replaces and bathed in light from wide windows. Each has its own bathroom (and two have balconies from which a would-be Romeo and Juliet could pledge their eternal love).
From 2006 to 2009, Laura Lee, Nelle’s granddaughter, managed the inn. But it wasn’t until 2013 that Laura Lee married her business partner Jesse Robinson at La Belle Auberge, carrying on the legacy of love started by the builder. They purchased the business in 2016.
Today guests can sit on the wrap-around porch or in the garden under the cool shadow of the tree-lined street, sipping a beverage or eating a gourmet breakfast prepared by Jesse.
Recent visitors from the Isle of Man, Quintin Gill and Voirrey Cawley, found La Belle Auberge online. After their long drive from Toronto they said their favorite aspect of the B&B was the big comfy bed. And, Quintin added, “it is absolutely beautiful and everyone is pleasant. It is definitely a place to come back to.”
With at screen televisions in each guest room, music filling the hallways and sitting rooms, and the cozy parlor, La Belle Auberge also offers guests an in-house massage to relax muscles over- used or stressed-out from a day of hiking, kayaking, skiing, or just plain shopping. For the bride to be and her wedding party, La Belle Auberge makes available special packages at the inn, along with spa and beauty treatments in conjunction with the nearby Emerge Healing Arts & Spa.
Founded in 2012 by Laura Lee and Jesse, Emerge is a full-service spa and salon, the first in the area. It is also an Aveda exclusive hair salon, Laura Lee explains, and she is understandably thrilled with that distinction as well. “This is a brand new offering and very high-end honor, since not anyone can carry the Aveda brand,” she says. “We are the first and only Aveda hair salon in Wellsboro.
“We have a wide variety of massage services from deep tissue massage and treating chronic pain to relaxing hot stone massages to melt stress away,” says Laura Lee, referring to the services that began with the business. “Each therapeutic massage service is customized to each client’s body and needs.”
But the scope of offerings has grown over the years. “We’re able to offer advanced skin care from luxurious relaxing facials to advanced treatment including microneedling, dermaplanning, microdermabrasion, and treatment of minor skin irregularities including removal of skin tags, red capillaries, aging spots, and other irregularities. Each of our facials include use of our wild-crafted signature product line, with ingredients customized for each individual skin care need from acne to anti-aging to rosacea."
Along with several individual massage rooms the spa also offers a couple’s massage room complete with a Romance Package which includes treatment, chocolate strawberries, sparkling grape juice, and a pair or roses.
“We work with a lot of bridal parties and can customize our services to what they are looking for. We can offer packages which include massages, makeup, hair and nail at Emerge, and a place where the members of the party can relax, have snacks, and enjoy the experience in a stress free setting,” says Laura Lee.
Located at 28 Central Avenue, Emerge (www.emergehealingarts.com) is a three-story Gothic Revival dating from the nineteenth century within walking distance of La Belle Auberge (www. labelleaubergeinn.com). Both are just footsteps from downtown Wellsboro with its cafes, boutiques, theater, galleries, and romantic gaslights.
“At Emerge we try to connect with our guests,” she says. “Today everyone is overstressed and overworked. We want their visit here to be magical and joyful.”