A home away from home in Holyoke

  • Calendario, who grew up in Amherst and Holyoke, invested his life savings in buying and renovating the Queen Anne Victorian. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Jay Candelario in the New York room at his bed and breakfast called, Jay's Bed and Breakfast in Holyoke.

  • House

  • Bedrooms feature period details, like the stained-glass windows in this reading nook. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • “When you walk in, I want you to go, ‘Wow!’ ” said Jay Candelario, at right, in the New York-themed room at his Holyoke bed and breakfast. The exterior is shown in top photo and the living room above.

  • A painstaking renovation following a fire brought the elegant building back to life. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • The dinning room with a fire place where Jay serves all you can eat brunches once a month at Jay's Bed and Breakfast owned by Jay Candelario in Holyoke.

  • The New York room at Jay's Bed and Breakfast owned by Jay Candelario in Holyoke.

  • The up stairs with 5 bed rooms at Jay's Bed and Breakfast owned by Jay Candelario in Holyoke.

  • A cozy nook in a bed room at Jay's Bed and Breakfast owned by Jay Candelario in Holyoke.

  • Jay Candelario in front of his bed and breakfast called, Jay's Bed and Breakfast in Holyoke.

  • Jay's Bed and Breakfast owned by Jay Candelario in Holyoke.

Staff Writer
Published: 11/21/2018 2:49:06 PM

When Jay Candelario purchased his 130-year-old Queen Anne Victorian in Holyoke shortly after the 2009 Financial Crisis for $90,000, he had a dream of turning the fire-damaged home into an elegant bed and breakfast with full service dining. That dream became a reality after more than half a decade of replacing windows, fully repairing the roof and other home improvement projects along the way.

“Eleven years ago, the house was struck by lightning and it caught on fire,” he said. “Half of the slate roof was gone. There was a lot of water damage and I bought it like that.”

Candelario is the sole owner/operator of the historic Jay’s Bed and Breakfast on Dwight Street in Holyoke, where he’s also the chef, cleaner, prep-cook and point-person for booking everything from bridal showers to guests from across the country and around the world looking for an inn to stay the night. In recent weeks, the bed and breakfast had guests from Morocco, Yugoslavia, California and New Jersey.

“I always ask people, ‘How did you find us?’ and they say they Googled ‘bed and breakfast.’ Every time you Google bed and breakfast, mine comes up in the area. It has good reviews. It’s a full service breakfast that you get. People feel that it’s a home away from home. I’m a chef, so I can prepare to everyone’s needs.”

As you walk into the Victorian bed and breakfast, you might notice a knight in armor, modern furniture mixed with an 19th century aesthetic, or the grand and solid spiraling wooden staircase, which leads to themed rooms based on locations across the world, including Brazil, Holyoke, Montreal, New York and Puerto Rico.

He also converted an antique dresser into a sink in one of the rooms, created an expanded dining room on the first floor of the house, and converted a storage area into a suite with a private bathroom. The home features fireplaces, chandeliers, an enclosed-porch, parlors, seating alcoves, stained-glass windows and wall art — including a large painting of Buddha overlooking the dining room.

“I’d say it’s 90 percent completed now,” he added. “There’s always another project to find and fix in the house.”

The most common reaction when people first enter the Victorian home is being awed and stunned by the interior.

“When you walk in, I want you to go, ‘Wow!’” he said. “When you drive by [the bed and breakfast] it looks nice, but I want to give you that wow feeling and also that warmth and comfort.”

Candelario grew up in Amherst and Holyoke and moved to New York City as an adult. He’s worked as a professional dancer, chef, decorator, handyman and as a manager for food and beverage company Nestle. He originally wanted to open up a bed in breakfast in New York City, but decided to invest his entire life savings into his Holyoke bed and breakfast.

“This is my baby,” Candelario said. “I tell people, ‘I’m giving you the keys to my baby’ … When you open a bed and breakfast, you’re not only a business, but I’m also welcoming you into my personal space. This is my hard work that took many years.”

He said if he only rented rooms as a bed and breakfast, his business would have “folded years ago.” Besides renting his property and home for private events, Candelario hosts a weekend brunch every third Saturday and Sunday of the month.

“People love my homemade sangria or mimosas. Basically, I prepare a menu based on the person’s needs.”

During the half a decade it took to renovate his home into a bed and breakfast, he received support from friends and family, including Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse, who became a personal friend of his after moving to the city. 

“Every time I saw him he’d say, ‘So, when are you going to open this bed and breakfast?’ Every time, people introduced me he’s say, ‘Hey, this is Jay Candelario, he’s going to open up a bed and breakfast in the city of Holyoke.’”

Candelario is the fifth owner of the Victorian home. The originally owners were the Finn family in Holyoke. The property was then later owned in the 1950s by a judge and his 12 children, where it became known as the “Judge Moriarty Mansion.” Candelario purchased the home from the fourth owner, a former antique dealer, who sold him the property for $90,000. He invested about $400,000 turning the vacant shuttered Victorian into a thriving bed and breakfast.

During the holiday season, Candelario often receives phone calls or emails from people either looking for a getaway from the hustle and bustle of the season or as gifts from friends and family for brunch or a night at the inn.

“People will call and say, “Hey, I’m buying a Christmas gift for four for brunch. Can I get a nice day for my daughter and son-in-law?’ It’s starting to become more common.”

For more information, visit jaysbedandbreakfast.com. Chris Goudreau can be reached at cgoudreau@gazettenet.com.

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