Meet Bill and Bella
Bill and Bella Youngquist are from Texas: Bill is originally from Ohio and Bella was born and raised in Texas. Bill is a retired air traffic controller and Bella is a certified and degreed professional photographer who has had her own business for over 7 years. It had always been a dream of Bella's to own and operate a Bed & Breakfast and that dream finally came true in perfect timing. Bella has visted 67 B&B's in her lifetime (including Simmons-Bond), but it wasn't till walking into this beautiful historic home that both Bill and Bella knew she was the one! They fell in love INSTANTLY!
February, 2022, Bill and Bella purchased this amazing and beautiful historic place and look forward to providing their guests with the same high-quality Bed & Breakfast experience that has become a tradition in Toccoa, Georgia. Both Bill and Bella have a love for people, history, antiques, and cooking with a passion for hospitality. Personalized guest attention & comfort is the highest priority for Bill and Bella.
E. Levi Prater
James B. Simmons
Steeped in History at The Simmons-Bond Inn Bed & Breakfast
There was a time not so long ago when if you asked someone if they expected to live to be one hundred years old, they would probably laugh at the thought. In 1940, for example, there were only 3,700 Americans aged one hundred or older. By 1990, that figure passed 60,000, and will soon exceed 100,000! We use the term "centenarian" to describe anyone who passes one hundred birthdays or more, and almost eighty per cent of them are female. But the lady in this story is not a person. We attach a feminine persona to cars and ships, but the grand dame I speak of is a house. Not just any house, of course. She is a twenty room, Greek revival, Queen Anne, Victorian masterpiece.
Now known as The Simmons-Bond Inn, the mansion was constructed in 1903 by architect E. Levi Prater, who went on to design many of the great homes in Gainesville and Athens, Georgia. It is said that James B. Simmons, a successful lumberman in Toccoa, wanted to build a mansion outside of town for his wife, Mrs. Antoinette Mosely Simmons, and so commissioned Mr. Prater to draw up the plans. But upon announcing his intentions to his wife, she told him she would not consider moving out of town. She was, after all, very active in the Literary Club, the Garden Club, the Adelphians, and the First Methodist church.
The plans having already been purchased, Mr. Simmons decided to squeeze the mansion onto a 100' x 100' city lot, taking almost every inch of it. Little else is known of Mr. Simmons. But his legacy lives on in the gorgeous quarter-sawn oak panels that line the main floor of the house to this day. The heavy oak pocket doors, flooring, pillars, and grand staircase are the hallmarks of a lumberman's home. The carved oak newel post, dental work, and the nine fireplaces speak not only of his wealth and success, but of his love for wood.
Mrs. Simmons, or "Mammy" as she was called, loved the house. She kept and milked cows out back where the library stands now, and she was a great cook.
What is now an oak built-in china cabinet, once served as a pie safe, and was filled with her deserts. Long before the present-day bed and breakfast opened, Mammy often took in boarders.
Ben Cheek, president of 1st Franklin Financial, was born in the house. She also took in servicemen during World War II. The paratroopers training at Camp Toccoa were entertained by the U. S. O. in tents on the property behind the house. But she was still strong enough to turn them away when they'd had a few too many. Some say the storage room under the grand staircase once served to hide moonshine during prohibition. Mrs. Simmons lived until December of 1954.
The Simmons’ had two children: Emma, who died of scarlet fever in infancy, and Frances Louise, who would live in the house well into her eighties, and died in 1991. In 1917, Frances Louise, or "Weezey", married Julius Belton Bond who owned a local furniture store, and her mother insisted they move into the house with her, thus the name "Simmons-Bond". Weezey was also very active in the Methodist church, where they named a Sunday School class after her. She loved to entertain in the huge paneled dining room with vaulted ceilings and a portico with stained glass and curved glass windows. She served ambrosia, dates stuffed with fondant, and spiced pecans. The same rooms are offered for weddings and parties today.
They too had two daughters, India Simmons-Bond (b.1919) and Mary Belton Bond (b.1925), who grew up in the house. Little Mary loved to entertain the guests at the Albermarle Hotel (later Alexander Apts.) across the street. India married Stephen McLynn "Mac" Gower, Jr., and stayed in the house while he was in the service. He was overseas for two years, but before he left the country, he traveled to the coast by troop train. These trains often had "Pullman" cars with fold-down beds. One night, he woke up by chance as the train passed through Toccoa. He could see the light on in India's bedroom, but he would not see her until after the war.
Mary and India moved out when they married, but their children spent many happy hours in the house. They would climb the huge magnolias that still stand in the yard and drop twigs on passers-by. Imagine playing hide-and-seek in a twenty-room mansion! They recall hanging Christmas stockings on the wide terra cotta fireplace that graces the foyer.
It's hard to say which is more impressive, the abundant ornate woodwork, or the glass. Oh, the glass! The front door is leaded glass, as are the parlor and foyer windows. The dining room has 4 stained glass windows, and upstairs there are 4 oval "spider web" leaded glass windows. But the crowning touch is the seven foot
stained glass window that lights the grand staircase. There are nine curved glass double-hung windows, including two that are arched! Some say the house was the first in Toccoa to have running water. One thing is certain - there was only one bathroom.
Today every guest room has a private bath, including one behind a secret passage in India's old room. The previous owners have tried to revive the original feel of the house, with wool oriental rugs like those purchased by James and Louise. The dining room has a large, thick, hand knotted Persian rug identical to those popular in the Victorian era. With the help of countless antiques, you can almost smell Mammy's cakes baking. India's room boasts the oak writing desk once owned by Nelly Bly, America's most famous female journalist.
The parlor houses heirlooms and books dating back to the late eighteenth century, and the original brass chandeliers still hang from twelve-foot ceilings. Even the food served here reminds us of times past. Generous, multi-course, gourmet breakfasts served on antique china and crystal are included with your night's stay. Of course, some things have changed for the better. Air conditioning and whole-house heating have been added. The Simmons’ used coal in the fireplaces; later, gas fireplaces were an improvement.