Thursday, Apr 18, 2019

Bed and breakfast opens in country

Crane Hollow bed and breakfast, owned and operated by Ken and Margie Pieper, with two rooms for guests, opened at 18914 Lincoln Road. Courtesy photo

A new bed and breakfast, Crane Hollow, has opened in Harvard at 18914 Lincoln Road. For owner Margie Pieper, the opening marks the long-awaited fulfillment of a lifelong dream.

“It’s been a dream of mine for 20 or 25 years,” said Pieper, who had the house built on the 40-acre property in 2007 with the idea of eventually turning it into a bed and breakfast. “We have an elevator that will assist people that need it, and each bedroom has its own bathroom. So we did things like that and put those things in place.”

Pieper is managing the new bed and breakfast along with her husband, Ken. The surrounding environment of Crane Hollow — whose namesake comes from the neighboring cranes that often fly over the region — is one of its chief charms, she said.

“We have cranes that visit us and fly over, and we’re kind of surrounded by some higher area,” Pieper said regarding her decision to name the bed and breakfast Crane Hollow. “It’s so beautiful out here. We’re a half mile off the road. You can’t see any other houses. All you see are big trees, the water, the prairie. It’s very secluded and very private. It’s just beautiful. I’m prejudiced, but everyone that comes out [also] says it’s beautiful.”

The bed and breakfast includes two rooms available for guests. The Lake Room, which has a queen-sized bed, looks out over the surrounding wildlife prairie and wetlands. The Forest Room overlooks the forest and has a king-sized bed. Both rooms contain a sitting area and a full, private bathroom with a bubbler bathtub.

The old trees encircling the property are emblematic of Crane Hollow’s isolated and tranquil atmosphere, Pieper said.

“We’re part of the Remnant Oak Forest of Illinois,” Pieper said. “We have 300- and 400-year-old oaks that the farmers cannot plow under … so we have a few of those beautiful oaks that are still hanging around. We’re also at the headwaters of Rush Creek, which goes into Kishwaukee [River], and to me, that’s just really cool.”

For the past several years, Pieper has contemplated ideas for the décor of Crane Hollow and talked with people in the business for advice and recommendations.

“Before [the house was even finished], I’ve been collecting things,” she said. “I have my file of ideas, so to speak, so that went into the building of the house. And all along I’ve been talking to people that are in the business; and some people say, ‘oh, you’re crazy, you don’t want to do that.’ But most people who see what we have [built] say, ‘Margie, people are going to love this place.’ So I feel good about that.”

For Pieper, a former schoolteacher, this is her first venture into the bed and breakfast business. But some of her skills and experiences, such as her culinary flair, will be a helpful launching pad for the new business, she said.

“It’s my first time [doing this],” Pieper said. “So it’s different. Although I’ve always cooked, I’ve always been a from-scratch kind of cook, so I think that’ll help me out a lot.”

Crane Hollow’s menu includes a variety of homemade breakfast items.

“I have a repertoire, so to speak,” Pieper said. “I have four-grain waffles; I have all kinds of egg dishes; I’ve got pancakes; I’ve got sausage and gravy, muffins, coffee cakes. What I’ve done so far is, when people come, I say would you want this or that?”

For nightly rates and information about Crane Hollow, visit or call 815-245-4056.