History in the making at the Belva Lockwood Inn  

History in the making at the Belva Lockwood Inn  Pictured is the future Belva Lockwood Inn, located at 249 Front St. in Owego. Renovations are ongoing, and the owners anticipate opening by the fall of 2018. (Photo by Wendy Post)
History in the making at the Belva Lockwood Inn  

Pictured is an historic sign at 249 Front St. in Owego, which was updated last year. (Photo by Wendy Post)

More than 150 years ago, an ambitious woman named Belva Lockwood, with an education degree in hand, embarked on a new career at 249 Front St. in Owego and became the principal of the then Owego Female Seminary from 1863 to 1865.

Today, Julie and Ike Lovelass, along with Ike’s father, Lester, are starting a new chapter of history with their own ambitious qualities, by transforming the Front Street property, located just a few hundred feet east of the Church Street intersection, into the Belva Lockwood Inn. The Lovelass’ also own and operate the Owego Kitchen on Lake Street.

Julie commented, “I am fascinated by Belva Lockwood’s story, and part of this whole journey is to share it.” 

Belva Lockwood studied law in the 1870’s, a noteworthy accomplishment for a woman of that time period, and then lobbied Congress to pass an anti-discrimination law to give women the right to practice in any federal court. Lockwood became the first woman to practice before the Supreme Court after President Rutherford B. Hayes signed the law in 1879. Lockwood is also known to have authored several articles about the women’s suffragist movement.

History in the making at the Belva Lockwood Inn  

Pictured is Ike Lovelass, working at 249 Front St. in Owego. Julie and Ike Lovelass, along with Ike’s father, Lester, are starting a new chapter of history by transforming the Front Street property into the Belva Lockwood Inn.  (Photo by JoAnn R. Walter)

A notable fact, Lockwood ran for President of the United States twice, once in 1884 against Grover Cleveland, and again in 1888, opposing Benjamin Harrison, which, last year, prompted County Historian Emma Sedore, to suggest that the historic marker located outside 249 Front St. be updated to honor Lockwood’s accomplishments. It has since been changed.

Sedore pointed out, too, that Lockwood was so well respected that three communities in the United States were named for her – Belva, West Virginia; Lockwood, California; and, a little closer to home, Lockwood, N.Y.  

An inductee at the National Women’s Hall of Fame at Seneca Falls, N.Y., Lockwood’s portrait is on display at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.   

The U.S.S. Belva Lockwood, a WWII merchant liberty ship, was named for her, and one of three figureheads of Lockwood is carved on a ship now displayed at Connecticut’s Mystic Seaport museum.

History in the making at the Belva Lockwood Inn  

Inside the future Belva Lockwood Inn are ornate hinges and doorknobs, original fixtures that will remain during renovations. (Photo by JoAnn R. Walter)

Lockwood did return to Owego in 1909, when she was welcomed back during what was called “Old Home Week,” and where she was a special guest speaker.

The Lovelass’ first toured the property in October last year.  

Julie commented, “When we walked in, we felt an immediate connection.”  

By November, the purchase was finalized, and with Ike and Lester managing a majority of the work today, along with the help of local tradesmen, progress has been moving right along.     

Not to be confused with a bed-and-breakfast, Julie explained, “This will be a luxurious inn with hotel-style amenities, and also boutique-like linens and other accessories.”

The inn will feature five individual rooms with queen-sized beds and private baths, one with a claw foot tub and the rest with showers. One disabled-access room will be located on the first floor, and a ramp will be built for access into the house.  

Finished rooms will be named the “Hiawatha Island Room,” a room that overlooks the river and features a fireplace, along with the “Glass Room,” which will showcase creative glass artistry by a local artist, and the “Eagles Room,” a nod to the Fraternal Home of the Eagles Club who used the house during the mid-1900’s.

History in the making at the Belva Lockwood Inn  

Inside the future Belva Lockwood Inn are beautiful doors and detailed trim work. (Photo by JoAnn R. Walter)

All floors inside were found intact and will be restored, Julie said, and, in addition, she is pleased that original doorknobs and other antique fixtures, like door hinges, still exist at the property. Detailed woodwork encompasses the trim around the windows, and several doors are original to the house. Other doors, architecturally salvaged, and specialty-crafted items will be added. Several glass chandeliers are also part of the lighting plan.   

Water damage from a leaky roof caused the plaster molding to be compromised, and the front porch, an add-on from a more recent time, will be rebuilt.

Another notable fact, an underground tunnel was found in the basement of the home, which is presumed, but not confirmed, to be part of an escape route, and similar to other homes in the area.

The Belva Lockwood Inn is expected to be open by the fall of 2018. With a full kitchen on-site, catering for special events will be offered such as rehearsal dinners, small weddings and bridal showers, just to name a few, and will accommodate upwards of 50 people. 

History in the making at the Belva Lockwood Inn  

Pictured is an image of 249 Front St. in Owego, as it looked when it was the Fraternal Order of the Eagles. (Provided Photo)

A liquor license for both the Inn and the catering business will be applied for, and reservations will be taken by summer.   

Another level of excitement, the Inn will be featured in an upcoming segment of the HGTV series, “Hunting Vintage,” to be aired in late spring.

Julie commented, “We appreciate the support of the community,” and added, “It’s been nice to see people walk by and look, or slow down when they drive by.” 

14 Comments on "History in the making at the Belva Lockwood Inn  "

  1. This is an incredible undertaking for them. The food will be dynamic I’m sure, as evidenced by the delicious combo’s and great service at The Owego Kitchen. This will be an awesome weekend get a way, right in town!!! Best of Luck!!!

  2. Terry Goodrich | May 24, 2018 at 10:53 am | Reply

    Very gratifying to see my hometown getting a wonderful touch by Julie, Ike, and Lester.
    All should be proud of this fitting update to Belva Lockwood’s memory.

  3. I watched the HGTV episode. I am so pleased that this beautiful historic home will be restored.

  4. Sabine Skaggs | May 25, 2018 at 2:13 pm | Reply

    So wonderful that they chose this house. Would have my favorite as well.. so much history,open space and potential. It will be absolutely stunning <3 CONGRATULATIONS to them both.

  5. I can’t wait to see it restored with all its grandeur brought to life again!

  6. I love the home they picked. It will be beautiful. I look forward to the progress.

  7. Rickelle Ruffin | June 17, 2018 at 10:22 pm | Reply

    I watched the HGTV episode and was so captivated by the history of this home. So glad that this couple chose this home and will definitely plan a weekend at the Inn.

  8. Priscilla LeJeune | August 20, 2018 at 12:48 am | Reply

    I was enthralled by the HGTV episode featuring your beautiful Inn. Please do a follow up episode so we can see the finished product. I would have been so disappointed had you not chosen that property, and I’m very pleased that someone is restoring such a beautiful and meaningful home.

  9. Can’t wait to see the progress made with renovations! Great to see folks undertake such a massive project. Do you have a blog? Hopefully pictures of your progress. Good luck!

  10. I was very impressed with the Lovelasses and wish Julie, Ike and Lester the very best of luck , success and happiness with the Inn. What a perfect choice ! I am very anxious to see the final result and am confident it will be spectacular ! I am also very interested in celebrating a very special family event here!

  11. Lisa McDougal | August 20, 2018 at 8:34 am | Reply

    Would love to see follow up posts on this project! Lisa Dawn McDougal on Facebook.

  12. Suzy de Lamcey | August 21, 2018 at 12:50 am | Reply

    You are both living my dream!!! So thrilled that you picked this beautiful house to rejoin the community of
    Oswego once more. Perhaps in the furture I can spend a week-end there.

    Please send ANY information and photos of the Inn when you get settled

  13. I too was so glad that they chose this lovely house to renovate back to the original home.
    So many grand homes have either not been taken care of ( Detroit ) or turned into apartments, etc.

    Congratulations on your wonderful find and keeping the history ! Especially part of the underground railroad as seen in the basement.

  14. A wonderful and meaningful project. But please note that the Owego Female Seminary was run for three years by Belva McNall, before she was married a second time and became Belva Lockwood. In fact it was called during her time McNall Seiminary. Also, the eagles stripped the home of its exterior and took down walls inside. The Eagles look was what the Lovelass’ bought last year, with the addition of a front porch in the 1970s.

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