50th Anniversary of the Phillips Family Owning Old Rittenhouse Inn: Wisconsin’s First Bed and Breakfast

Painting of the Phillip's family (the owners of Old Rittenhouse Inn a historic bed and breakfast in Wisconsin)2023 was a landmark year for Old Rittenhouse Inn, marking the 50th anniversary of Jerry and Mary Phillips purchasing the Inn. To celebrate this momentous occasion, we are offering a 50th Anniversary Special to thank our incredible guests who made this possible! Throughout this commemorative period, we are offering a glimpse into the captivating history of our property and five decades of the Phillips family’s dedicated stewardship. Here’s to 50 years of cherished memories and many more to come!

Old Rittenhouse Inn Property and Architecture History

Before the Phillips family purchased the property, the Old Rittenhouse Inn was the summer home of a former Civil War general:

  • The Old Rittenhouse Inn is a rambling Queen Anne Victorian-style home completed in the summer of 1890 for Allen C. Fuller, an Adjutant General for Illinois during the Civil War.
  • Le Chateau was built in 1907 by lumber baron Frank Boutin JR. 
  • The house’s exterior is a combination of native Lake Superior brownstone, creamy brick, and cedar shingles. The house was originally painted dark green and shaded by giant pine trees.
  • A grand foyer graces the entrance to the Inn, drawing guests up the beautifully designed cherry staircase to the upstairs guest rooms or leading them to the dining room, first-floor guest rooms, and kitchen.
  • Room X, the Old Rittenhouse Inn’s most popular luxury suite, was once the formal ballroom of the house.­­
  • The four main rooms on the first floor originally served as the kitchen, formal parlor, the family room, and the dining room. Today, these rooms are the setting for our award-winning gourmet restaurant. Two of the dining rooms contain the original gas light fixtures, now converted to electric.

    “We didn’t plan a business, we built a dream” -Jerry Phillips. 

    historic photo of our bed and breakfast in Wisconsin: Old Rittenhouse Inn

The Phillip’s Family 50 Years at Old Rittenhouse Inn

  • In 1973, former Madison, WI, music teachers Mary and Jerry Phillips purchased the home. 
  • The following year, they named it Old Rittenhouse Inn, after Charles Rittenhouse of Philadelphia, PA, one of the original investors in Bayfield. Rittenhouse Avenue, Bayfield’s main street, also bears his name.
  • The Phillips officially opened their home as an Inn in 1975, opening the doors to Wisconsin’s first bed and breakfast! They transformed several of the original rooms into four guest rooms.
  • In 1976, Mary and Jerry debuted their new gourmet restaurant, as well as their Wassail holiday dinner concerts.
  • The Inn expanded in May of 1985, expanding the kitchen and basement and providing five additional guest rooms. 
  • Today, there are two guest rooms on the first floor and seven on the second floor. The third floor is the location of three stunning suites boasting luxurious whirlpools, fireplaces, and magnificent views of downtown Bayfield, Lake Superior, and the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.
  • In 2004, Mark Phillips, the original innkeeper’s son, took over the Inn.


Interested in learning more about the history of the Old Rittenhouse Inn? Check out the video 40 Years at Historic Old Rittenhouse Inn presented by Jerry and Mark Phillips!

Cheers to 50 Years at Old Rittenhouse Inn!

Our family has well over a hundred years of innkeeping experience here at Old Rittenhouse Inn. Join the tradition of warmth and hospitality that extends back 50 years, and plan a visit to Wisconsin’s first bed and breakfast!