Barry and Deborah Herring and Courtney and Dietrich Gosser. photo by Paige Langenderfer

Family Buys
Brown County Inn

by Paige Landenderfer

The Brown County Inn is getting a facelift.
The hotel, restaurant, bar, and banquet facility on the southern edge of the town of Nashville is under new ownership and they are ready to give the property a makeover.

Built in 1974 and last renovated in 2002, the Brown County Inn captures the charm and atmosphere of days-gone-by, but new owners Barry and Deborah Herring and Courtney and Dietrich Gosser are working hard to make sure that the property also features modern and up-to-date facilities.

“This hotel has such a huge history in this community,” Barry said. “Everybody around here has memories of this place. We want to honor the heritage of the Brown County Inn, but update it and give it some general TLC.”

“When we first looked at the hotel we thought it would be a great project to be able to give this place back to the community—to reinvigorate it with energy,” Deborah said. “We immediately saw the potential.”

Changes will include painting inside and out, new carpeting, landscaping, adding recycling and composting, a new guest room key system, a new computer system, and updated Wi-Fi.

Brown County Inn

photo by Cindy Steele

“There aren’t going to be many things we won’t touch,” Courtney said. “The bones of it are just right and the size is perfect. It just needs a facelift.”

The hotel will likely close the month of January for guest room overhauls.

Barry said it’s an exciting time for his family as well as the community. He and his wife Deborah are looking forward to managing the hotel with their daughter and son-in-law.
“This is a family project for us. We want it to be owned by our family forever. We hope our grandkids are running it someday,” he said.

Each of the four family members/owners has a specific role in operating the hotel:
•Barry will focus on financial aspects of the business and will work with contractors
•Deborah will focus on hotel operations
•Courtney will manage marketing and event planning
•Dietrich will manage the restaurant and bar

While all four owners have extensive business experience, none of them have ever owned or managed a hotel.

“It has been a big learning curve for us,” Barry said. “We hired 99 percent of the existing staff. We couldn’t have done it without them. They’ve been extremely gracious and are teaching us about the business.”
Deborah said she has been surprised by the amount of maintenance involved in operating a hotel.

“This is a big building with a lot of working parts. Something breaks almost daily,” she said. “We have quickly learned how hard it is to keep things maintained.”
One thing Barry was surprised to learn was that the Brown County Inn is one of the ten largest employers in the community.

“I think the community really wants to see this place thriving again,” he said. “Town officials have been incredibly supportive. We want to make the community proud.”

The project has been a major investment for all of the owners, especially Courtney and Dietrich, who moved to Nashville from Madison, Wisconsin to pursue this new dream.

“A couple of months ago, I was eight hours away in my own world. Today, I’m in this wonderful community, running a hotel with my family,” Courtney said. “There have already been so many wonderful moments. It’s definitely going to bring our family together more than ever before. It’s magical.”

While the change was less dramatic for Barry and Deborah, the journey to hotel ownership has been just as magical.

The pair first fell in love with Brown County 18 years ago, when they purchased a weekend home in the area.
“We were living in Chicago at the time and both had very high stress jobs,” Barry said. “We wanted someplace remote, quiet and peaceful to get away from the city on the weekends.”

Barry, Deborah, and their six children spent nearly every weekend at their Brown County get away, and loved the tranquility of their time in the woods.

“It felt like our blood pressure dropped 20 points when we got to Brown County,” Barry said.

“It’s perfect here,” Deborah said. “I remember never wanting to leave.”

Courtney attended camp in Brown County every summer with her siblings.

“Growing up spending most of my time in the city, it was neat to come here and actually see dark at night and stars in the sky. It was nice, quiet family time,” she said. “The wildlife was so amazing and the terrain was so different from anywhere else. It’s hard not to love it here.”

Two years ago, Barry and Deborah gave up the city life to live in Brown County full time.

“We just love it here,” Deborah said. “Brown County has given so much to us. We’re excited to be able to give something back to the community. It’s so neat to think about people having weddings at the inn and enjoying themselves. I think it’s going to be wonderful. It gives me goosebumps.”

The Brown County Inn is at the intersection of State Roads 45 & 135 in Nashville. The Inn’s website is
<www.BrownCountyInn.com> and the phone number is (812) 988-2291.