LINDSBORG — Hospitality is a priority for many of Lindsborg’s residents and few exemplify that characteristic more than Becky Anderson, who welcomed guests to the Swedish Country Inn for 23 years.

Anderson and her husband bought the hotel in May of 1995. She recalls being on the way to a anniversary vacation in Colorado when her husband placed a call back home to see if their offer had been accepted.

“He turned around and said, ‘well, happy anniversary — you have an inn,’” Anderson said.

The Andersons bought the Swedish Country in from former owner Clinton Applequist. Applequist was the one who bought the 120-year-old building, which was originally a buggy works. It had been turned into a men’s dormitory for Bethany College and Applequist spent several years renovating it into the Swedish Country Inn. He even traveled to Sweden to buy furnishings for the hotel, which opened in May 1986.

Nearly 20 years later, Anderson took over the Swedish Country Inn.

“I’d never done anything like running an inn,” Anderson said.

Having grown up in Lindsborg and graduated from Bethany College, Anderson was often able to place the names of those who called to make reservations at the hotel and recall details about their families.

“I think it makes people feel good when they’re remembered,” Anderson said.

The Swedish Country Inn’s 19 rooms hosted several celebrity guests including former basketball player and senator Bill Bradley, whose height presented a challenge.

“We wanted to put him in the nicest room, but the bed had a footboard on it,” Anderson said.

A room with a footboard-less bed was found for the senator to be able to rest his head — and the rest of him as well.

When singer Joan Baez was scheduled to perform a concert to Salina, her road manager remembered living in Lindsborg for a few years and insisted on bringing her to stay at the Swedish Country Inn.

“Being kind and welcoming is really what it’s all about,” Anderson said. “In that regard, the inn was really fun because you were constantly welcoming people.”

One guest recently told Anderson he stayed at the hotel more then 50 times.

“The biggest thing that I would take away from the inn from all that time is all the repeat guests we had — and we had a lot,” Anderson said. “A lot of people would stay with us at least once or twice a year, some more often, and so they’d get to be really good friends.”

The Swedish Country Inn is a popular choice for people coming to Lindsborg — from near or far — for the first time.

“As Bethany College has recruited more and more foreign students, a lot of their parents come, knowing nothing about Lindsborg or Kansas or even the United States,” Anderson said. “Coming to the Midwest, to a little town, I think they all felt so good when they left here.”

Sometimes, first-time guests turned into long-time residents.

“A lot of people who have chosen to move here or have a business here or invest in Lindsborg, we got to know them at the inn,” Anderson said.

Owning the hotel gave Anderson a chance to make a first impression with guests who did not expect to find the creative, thriving community that Lindsborg offers.

“It’s about the arts; it’s about the people who settled this community and the things that were important to them,” Anderson said.

Anderson sold the hotel to Mark and Marty Schupbach — coincidentally on what would have been her 49th wedding anniversary — last month. Marty Schupbach and Anderson were in the same graduating class at Bethany College.

“I think that they will make changes at the inn. They will do their own thing,” Anderson said. “...She has a really good eye for color and design so I’ll think they’ll do a wonderful job carrying on the inn.”

Anderson said she intends to focus on her work as mayor of Lindsborg, a role she assumed in January.

“Lindsborg’s in a good place right now. A lot of things are happening and it’s fun to be a part of all of that,” Anderson said.

The Swedish Country Inn is located at 112 W. Lincoln St. in Lindsborg. For more information, call 785-227-2985 or visit http://swedishcountryinn.com. 

Contact Patricia Middleton by email at pmiddleton@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow her stories on Twitter at @MacSentinel.