Denise Erichsen and her family have created a charming retreat within this historic Victorian home located at 310 North Broadway Avenue.  PAULA VAGTS/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE
Denise Erichsen and her family have created a charming retreat within this historic Victorian home located at 310 North Broadway Avenue. PAULA VAGTS/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE
An elegant Victorian home nestled into the entrance of Spring Valley's downtown has been a witness to this small town since around 1887 and with the ebb and flow of the tides of change the home has seen its tenants come and go. It now is ready to welcome guests from near and far as it is now the home for Glad Gatherings.

The new retreat open to guests for special group or family events, such as quilting or scrapbooking, over a weekend has been a dream for Denise Erichsen and her family for years and now finally realized.

It began 13 years ago when her sister invited all the sisters and nieces to her home for a quilt camp.

"The first year it was just five of us and then it kind of grew," Erichsen began.

As timing would have it as the group grew, her niece, Jenny Gruenwald, purchased a quilt store in Iowa where they continued to meet for the family quilting camps until Gruenwald moved to Doylestown, Pa.

"We already, as a family, were renting a place at least twice a year after Jenny had to relocate," Erichsen conveyed.

Needing a new space for the family to convene, Erichsen quietly kept an eye out for possibilities. Then as fate would have it, one of her daughters found what the family needed just blocks from Erichsen's own home in Spring Valley.

"Last spring one of my daughters sent me an e-mail with this picture attached and said 'Mom, this is the perfect retreat house!' So when we were at this year's summer retreat one of the girls brought it up and we all looked at the house online. As we were leaving, Jenny said 'I think you should go look at that house,' and I said OK!"

And as Gruenwald said, "our business was born," but not just a business, a family adventure with Erichsen and Gruenwald at the helm.

Soon after the plans began to unfold, purchasing the home in early fall, they dived into the work needed on the outside of the home as the weather turned cold and the snow began to fall.

To date they have replaced the roof, put in a new furnace and air conditioner in the workshop area, replaced some flooring, worked on electric and plumbing, as well as a splash of paint. The family, especially Erichsen's husband, Brad, and her brother-in-law, Roger, who is Gruenwald's father, has done much of the work.

"Basically there was a lot that was in very good condition, esthetically, but there's still lots of little things that we want to do, too," said Erichsen.

She explained many of their plans, such as painting the outside and bringing the gardens back to their glory, are on hold until spring arrives.

The house is a delight for all, with its six charming bedrooms boasting a total of 12 beds, a large craft studio and a design center, both filled with all the tools and supplies to make any crafter giddy.

They have already hosted a retreat filled with family and friends as a trial run to get ideas, as well as two family Christmases. The end of this month will bring their first full house of overnight guests.

Glad Gatherings is not just for quilters and scrapbookers, though, as it is open for baby and bridal showers, family reunions or any group who needs a large place to gather.

"It has been fun to see our dream become reality," Gruenwald says. Though she admits being so far away, 1,116 miles in fact, is the biggest challenge for her, but she has been able to travel back on a couple of occasions to help work on the house.

"We've made good use of technology with scanning documents, emails, texts and phone calls. I work on the items that can be done from afar, such as the bookkeeping, managing the inquiries and reservations. Denise is in charge of all local duties including upkeep and maintenance at the house," Gruenwald revealed.

"Timing is everything. I'm starting back at school, my daughter got married, we got the house, but it came together pretty well, I think," Erichsen said of the balancing the new venture.

It is clear the true joy of this new adventure is being able to share the experience with their loved ones.

"Our family and friends always have a great time when we get together to quilt and scrapbook and now we can provide others a great space to host retreats and gatherings," Gruenwald concluded.

If you would like more information on Glad Gatherings you can visit the website www.gladgatherings.com or check out the facility's Facebook page.