The Boot Hill Bed and Breakfast was given the readers' choice award for best heritage bed and breakfast, but with other projects in the works, proprietors Enid and Kurt Scadden are not hanging the award on the wall and calling it a job done.
It was competition, the story goes, that encouraged the prominent Dodge City insurance agent and real estate developer Hiram Burr to build the biggest and best house in town up on Boot Hill.
It was serendipity, another story goes, that led Enid and Kurt Scadden into the same house where they have operated Boot Hill Bed and Breakfast since 2006.
And perhaps it was good luck that has enabled the couple to succeed where others have tried. Many have made a go at running a lasting home-away-from-home in the Burr House: first in 1994, then 1997, 2000 and 2002.
But more likely their nearly nine-year tenure as the proprietors of a house befitting one of the wealthiest builders of Dodge City has more to do with the couple’s day-seizing optimism and sense of hospitality.
“We’ve just opened up the doors and made people welcome,” Enid Scadden said. “For me, it’s not a hotel, it’s my home.”
“There comes a time, I suppose, where we think it would be nice to be alone, but when we have that day, we really miss it.” With guests, “The house comes alive. It’s not the same with just the two of us rattling around,” Scadden said.
A list of returning guests is a testament to that homey quality, Scadden says, as is being named the “Best Heritage Bed and Breakfast” this year by the readers of True West magazine, which boasts a readership of 312,000.
Among their guests have been a historian that identified the Ernest Batchelder handmade tile fireplace. “To us it was just a lovely fireplace,” Scadden said, not knowing the rarity of the tiles made by one of the leading artists in the Arts and Crafts movement.
Another was Danny Trejo, the grimacing, rugged B-movie actor who has seen a career resurgence in several years.
“We’ve made some amazing friends,” Scadden said. “Everybody has a story.” She especially likes the long-term guests, the ones she really gets to know.
“I feel blessed to be part of so many people’s lives,” she said. “I know it’s corny, but it’s true.”
The bed and breakfast is a realization of a long-held dream, Scadden said. The couple had bought a place in Spain right before Sept. 11, 2001. The market crashed, leaving them owning a far-flung property in Europe and a 2600 square foot home with a view of Pikes Peak they couldn’t unload.
Soon, they moved into a small apartment in Denver and started planning for the future. By then, the dream of a bed and breakfast seemed far off.
While checking out a phenomenal deal on a home in Ashland in 2006, the real estate agent mentioned a bed and breakfast that was about to hit the market in Dodge City.
After visiting the Burr House, “We just knew,” Scadden said. “We drove back to Denver in dead silence. You know when you get an idea and don’t want to voice it. We were so lucky. I guess it was meant for us.”
“We haven’t regretted it. I wish we did it years before. These have been the best eight years of my life. And the hardest. It’s hard work.”
This winter, particularly, has been difficult. Most winters are slow and steady, Scadden said, but this winter has been dead.
“If we can get through March, we’ll be surviving,” Scadden said. “It’s been a real tough last couple of months.”
And when that time comes, as tourism picks up and cash is a little looser, Scadden plans to open a bakery, and sooner, plans to host Sunday brunches with special dishes, “Not the run of the mill stuff,” she says.
On top of providing a hedge against the slow winter months or poor tourism seasons, a bakery will provide an outlet for Scadden, whose shyness and reclusiveness at the restaurant she ran in her native England caused one spurned customer to barge into the kitchen to meet and compliment the chef.
Most days, she says, she is content to watch Dodge City from atop its highest point, but after this winter, and after recovering from major surgery, she is “raring to go.”
So in the future, perhaps the ongoing success of the Boot Hill Bed and Breakfast will be attributed to more than luck, hard work, optimism and hospitality, but to the power of a tray of gooey, warm cinnamon buns, English toffee and a proper cup of tea.