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A home away from home in Holyoke

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

  • 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!’” says Jay Candelario, shown in the New York-themed room at his Holyoke bed and breakfast. Staff Photo/Carol Lollis

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

  • The New York room at Jay’s Bed and Breakfast, owned by Jay Candelario in Holyoke. Staff Photo/Carol Lollis

  • The upper floor at Jay’s Bed and Breakfast in Holyoke features five bedrooms. Staff Photo/Carol Lollis

  • Jay Candelario owns Jay’s Bed and Breakfast on Dwight Street in Holyoke. Staff Photo/Carol Lollis



Staff Writer
Friday, November 30, 2018

When Jay Candelario purchased his 130-year-old Queen Anne Victorian in Holyoke shortly after the 2009 Financial Crisis, 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 at last after more than five years 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 around the world looking for a place to stay. 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,” Candelario said. “It has good reviews. It’s a full service breakfast that you get. People feel that it’s a home away from home.”

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 around the world, including Brazil, Holyoke, Montreal, New York and Puerto Rico.

Candelario also converted an antique dresser into a sink in one of the rooms, created an expanded dining room on the first floor, 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 to be in awe of 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 and breakfast in New York City, but decided to invest his entire life savings into his Holyoke establishment.

“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,” he said. “Basically, I prepare a menu based on the person’s needs.”

During the five years 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’d 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, with the Finn family being the house’s original owners. Then in the 1950s, the property was owned by a judge and his 12 children, where it became known as the “Judge Moriarty Mansion.”

Candelario purchased the home from a former antique dealer 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 looking for a getaway from the hustle and bustle of the season, or looking to incorporate the bed and breakfast into their gift-giving plans.

“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?’” Candelario recounted. “It’s starting to become more common.”

For more information, visit jaysbedandbreakfast.com.