WOODSTOCK – When Everton Martin and Karla Stewart-Martin converted the “Groundhog Day” house to a bed and breakfast, it was the first time the home had been used in the same way it was depicted in the movie.
The couple would like to see it stay that way. The Martins have put the 5,800-square-foot house – seen as the Cherry Street Inn during the movie – on the market for $985,000.
The home at 344 Fremont St. has eight bedrooms, eight full bathrooms and a partial bathroom. Its listing on the real estate website trulia.com says it could be “easily turned into the grand single family it once was.”
“We’re marketing it either way,” said Rick Bellairs, the real estate agent for the property. He said the house has been listed on several bed and breakfast-related real estate sites.
“I don’t think those turn over that rapidly,” he said. “Someone could just as easily turn this with very little effort back into a single-family home.”
The house, built in 1894, was put on the market in May of last year.
The Martins purchased the home in 2008 for $435,000. They led extensive renovations after the purchase, including the installation of new heating and air conditioning systems and an overhaul of the electrical and plumbing systems. The couple also redid the kitchen, added bathrooms and turned attic space into an apartment.
The couple’s purchase came at the conclusion of a lengthy search for the perfect place for a bed and breakfast, they told the Northwest Herald in 2010. The Royal Victorian Manor Bed & Breakfast opened that year, offering five rooms.
But the slumping economy hit the business hard, and the couple didn’t anticipate the toll of distance from their family, Stewart-Martin said. They have children and grandchildren in the Milwaukee suburbs.
“It was and it still is something that we do not regret doing,” she said. “Life kind of happened around us with the economy and that sort of thing.”
The couple picked the house for its potential – not the Groundhog Day lore. But Stewart-Martin said the way the city and its residents embraced the bed and breakfast was icing on the cake.
“We’ve enjoyed being here in Woodstock and we’ll be here as long as it takes to find the right person to come along and buy the house,” she said.
The business is still running and entertained a full house during recent Groundhog Day festivities. The week’s special guest, “Groundhog Day” scriptwriter Danny Rubin, stayed at the house, Bellairs said.
Only the exterior of the Victorian actually appeared in “Groundhog Day.” Scenes set inside the Cherry Street Inn were actually filmed on a movie set.
But crews did enter the house to film a view from a third-story window, which peers down Madison Street. It’s the view Bill Murray’s character sees after waking up and looking outside.
All in all, the house has left a significant imprint in the minds of those who saw the movie, said Maggie Crane, a member of the Groundhog Day Committee.
“When people come visit town, the first thing they ask for is Bill Murray’s puddle,” Crane said. “The second place they all want to know is where’s the Cherry Street Inn.”
Crane said the big house with the wraparound porch had immediately stuck out to a location scout during his first visit to town.
After getting a look of the Square, Bob Hudgins – now a production manager for Chicago Fire – wanted to go searching for a bed and breakfast.
“They just drove around, and as they turned down Madison Street, he saw the house down the street and knew that the house had the greatest potential from the beginning,” said Crane, relaying a story she’s heard Hudgins tell during Groundhog Days walking tours.
It was a single-family house at the time, holding a big family.
“A guy knocks on the door and says we’d like to use your house in a movie,” Crane said. “They were willing, and that’s how it got chosen.”