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The Innkeepers and history of Crest Country Inn

The present owners of the Crest Country Inn, Gary and Kandi Stake, are fourth-generation Iowa County hoteliers. Since the late 1800s, Gary's great grandparents, Florence and Harry, began operating the Stake Hotel in Williamsburg, Iowa. Their son, George, purchased the hotel from them. George and his wife Virgie extended their gifted hospitality to local residents and guests alike for years until they sold The Stake Hotel. Gary's other grandparents, Alvin and Emma Kraus, owned and operated Sudbury Court in Marengo, Iowa.

Dr. Alvin and Emma (Howe) Kraus come from a long line of Hoteliers and named their motel Sudbury Court after the Wayside Inn in Sudbury, Massachusetts.

Emma Howe Kraus' family entered into the hospitality industry in 1716. David Howe was granted permission to "keep a house of entertainment for travelers" along the Old Boston Post Road.

-(1748) David's son, Ezekiel's rates were:
Lodging - 4 pence
Dinner - 20 pence each
Common Dinner - 12 pence each
Best Supper and Breakfast - 15 pence each
-(1775) Lieutenant Colonel Howe leads Sudbury Massachusetts Company to Concord Center.
-(1853) Henry David Thoreau (Poet) Stays at Howe's Tavern.
-(1862) Henry Wadsworth Longfellow visits Howe Tavern and writes Tales of a Wayside Inn, making the Howe Tavern a Colonial Landmark.
-(1923) Henry Ford purchases the Wayside Inn, renamed and restored the property which is now a National Historic Site.

The Wayside Inn, located in Sudbury, Massachusetts, is still operational today offering a restaurant, ten historically accurate guest rooms, and hosting for small receptions. It is reputedly the oldest operating inn in the country. The inn's archive has documents from 1686 including the official license granted to the first innkeeper, David Howe, in 1716. Lydia Howe, the granddaughter was born in the inn.

The Inn celebrated its 300th Anniversary in 2016. For more information go to where a list of present-day prices for food and lodging can be obtained.
The Innkeepers Today 

In 1960, Gary's parents, Wayne and Vivian Stake, changed professions. They moved from the family farm to become hoteliers of Sudbury Court, in Marengo Iowa. Wayne, while working for the Iowa Department of Transportation, spotted a building site at the crest of a hill, near the 'soon to be constructed' Interstate 80, Williamsburg, Iowa. It was just right for building a motel at the 'crest of a hill'. The rest is history. Wayne and Vivian built and managed the Crest Motel until their retirement.
Gary and Kandi Stake managed the motel for five years before purchasing the motel in 1999.
Crest Motel has remained in the Stake family since it was built. Recently, Crest Motel has been updated to Crest Country Inn.