This unique Rockton B&B provides an ideal retreat from the bustling pace of city life. Discover how it began with one great idea, and why guests feel refreshed after a weekend visit.
Because Rich Spanton was born on Nov. 1, his birthday celebration always centered around apple orchards and autumn activities. So, it came as no surprise to those who knew him when he opened a business that caters to such activities.
But Rich and his wife, Chrissie, did much more, when they opened Orchard Ridge Farms, 6786 Yale Bridge Road, in 2005. The 130-acre property is located about seven miles from downtown Rockton. Orchard Ridge Farms includes 5,000 apple trees grown organically, two ponds, 50 acres of walking trails, a butterfly and bird sanctuary, and a lovely pavilion that will host 85 weddings this year. It’s also home to Copperstone Inn, a seven-room bed-and-breakfast, ideal for a romantic escape.
“We hear from many guests that it’s not your typical bed-and-breakfast,” Rich says. “We built the type of place where we would want to stay. We did everything to the nines.”
Rich and Chrissie met in 2003, and were married four years later. In addition to the Orchard Ridge Farms, Rich owns Mastercraft Exteriors, a national roofing, siding and gutters company. He has lived in Rockton for more than 35 years. Chrissie, a graphic designer, immediately liked Rockton when she moved here from Columbus, Ohio. “I love the small-town feel,” she says. “It’s an incredible place to raise a family.” The couple has one son, Fletcher, nearly 2.
In 2006, the Spantons bought the house next door to Copperstone Inn to live in, along with 60 acres to start the apple orchard. Then, they decided to purchase the 1858 Greek Revival limestone building next door. Rich has always had a soft spot for the unique buildings in his hometown. “I’ve always had an affinity for limestone homes and buildings like the Talcott Free Library and Dairyhaus,” Rich says. “I looked at this project as a chance to restore an old farm home, rather than demolish it.”
The couple worked diligently on transforming the farmhouse for nearly three years before it opened as Copperstone Inn, in January 2009. They gutted and renovated the 1,000 square-foot home and then added another 8,000 square feet. Much of the original character was saved and incorporated into the addition, by using limestone, wood and slate flooring, barn wood siding, tin and copper ceilings and 19th century period furniture. They didn’t visit other bed-and-breakfasts or research them online. Instead, the two relied upon their own gut instincts, along with some help from Rich’s mother, Saundra, who is the innkeeper. They picked out colors, wallpaper, granite and furniture, right down to every knob, buying from local businesses, when possible.
“We loved every aspect of the renovation,” says Chrissie. “But now we joke that the house talked to us through the entire process. Putting it together was pretty fun.”
The 1858 Limestone Loft in the original portion of the home is a two-story unit with exposed limestone, wrought iron railings and slate floors. It has a sitting room and entertainment area on the first floor, and a bedroom suite in the loft with an antique fireplace, king-sized bed, claw-foot bathtub and a double walk-in shower.
The two-level Northwoods Suite has black walnut walls, natural hickory floors and decor that includes antique skis and skates, plus a private balcony, spacious jacuzzi tub and a double walk-in shower. The Farmer’s Quarters, on the main level, has a private patio and entrance. The Queen’s Retreat is the largest and most elegant of the rooms. It has a sitting area and large private balcony with room for 30 – a perfect bridal suite space.
The Sundance Suite is located on the upper level and overlooks the ponds and gardens. It exudes Western charm, with a wagon wheel chandelier hanging from a cathedral ceiling, a stone fireplace with a six-shooter on the mantle and another hanging from the bed post, along with a rocking chair resting on a cowhide rug. There are even swinging doors to the bathroom; whiskey barrels are retrofitted with copper sinks.
The lower level includes the Wine Cellar Room, which has a French Country feel and a direct view of the fern garden. The Apple Cellar Room, also on the lower level, has direct access to the outdoor patio and a spectacular view of the orchard.
“I wanted one room that centered on the apple orchard,” says Rich. Each room has a flat-screen TV, an in-room music satellite system and either a Jacuzzi tub or spacious shower.
Breakfast is provided at the large kitchen table, located on the main level, but guests are on their own for lunch and dinner. A theater room with rustic furniture includes a 60-inch flat-screen TV and an extensive movie selection. Just off the theater room is a bar, used primarily for social functions. Guests are encouraged to bring their own food and alcohol. Down the hall is a mini-spa with pedicure chairs and room for couples’ massages. Spa services are available by reservation.
Off the house is a patio with a hot tub and outdoor kitchen. The inn is heated by a corn boiler that was purchased from Denmark and is fed with locally grown corn.
Copperstone Inn is popular for wedding parties, family reunions or people just looking to unwind in the country. Guests come from Chicago, as well as neighboring communities, and must be adults, unless the entire house is rented. “It’s a great place to get away, especially if your kids have a babysitter or are staying with family,” says Rich. Room rates for the Copperstone Inn range from $179 to $399 per night, depending on the season and the suite. Weekends are booked months in advance.
Debbie Maier and Don Carone of Chicago have stayed at the inn on several occasions. They travel extensively for their jobs – Maier is a motivational speaker and Carone works for a lighting and trucking entertainment company. The couple discovered Copperstone on a trip to Blackhawk Farms Raceway in South Beloit, where they race formula cars as a hobby. They have stayed in each of the seven rooms at least once.
“It’s our little retreat out of the city,” says Maier. “For us, the Inn is very warm and welcoming. It reminds me of an old English countryside house, someplace in Italy with unique character. It’s like a new experience every time. The staff is amazing, the food is incredible and the rooms are spotless. It’s a high-end experience in a small town.”
In 2010, the Spantons added a 12,000-square-foot wedding pavilion, after repeated requests from guests about getting married on the property. They started with a tent, which didn’t help, especially during a particularly cold October when it snowed and dropped to 27 degrees on the day of a wedding.
“If we were going to do weddings, I didn’t want to do them halfway,” Rich says. In addition to weddings, The Pavilion hosts special events and holiday parties for businesses and charities.
Kris Paulsgrove can’t say enough good things about Copperstone and The Pavilion. Last summer, her daughter Marissa married Kent Giardini at the wedding pavilion over the July 4th weekend, and the entire family stayed at the inn. “I never knew it was here,” says Paulsgrove, a Rockford resident. “We loved it. I’ve stayed at a bed-and-breakfast in Napa Valley and it’s very comparable. The renovations are wonderful and the grounds are superb. The staff was very accommodating, efficient and did a great job in every aspect.”
The Spantons love it, too, including young Fletcher. He’s starting to appreciate the beautiful surroundings and assortment of critters like bullfrogs, bass and rabbits. “We want our son to grow up at a place like this,” Rich says. “We want him to learn the value of hard work. He loves it here.”
So do many others, even if they can only call it home for a few days at a time.