Home & Garden

Restoring Old Edna

Pattea Torrence is the owner/gardner of the Old Edna B&B. Old walnut tree over blacksmith shop.
David Middlecamp
Pattea Torrence is the owner/gardner of the Old Edna B&B. Old walnut tree over blacksmith shop. David Middlecamp 6-24-2010 The Tribune

One hundred years ago, passengers on the east-west Pacific Coast narrow gauge railway from Los Olivos to Port San Luis (formerly Port Harford) and the north-south Southern Pacific stopped to rest at the Edna Depot and town site. Stagecoach and horseback travelers paused here as well, as they traveled the original Price Canyon Road to Pismo Beach.

Today, the site is once again a vibrant and welcoming rest stop, brought to life by Pattea Torrence and husband Jeff Kocan, owners since 2000. The original buildings are still there, repaired and cleared of overgrown vines and shrubs, now enhanced by new gardens, trees and lawns. Passionate about the project, Pattea Torrence says, “It’s not really about business; it’s about bringing back a town.”

John Tognazzini had purchased the two-acre site consisting of a blacksmith shop, creamery, barn and other outbuildings in 1897. He built a two-story tin building along the main highway and ran a general store on the first floor and a dance hall upstairs. In 1908 he added a one-story Victorian farmhouse where the family lived.

The historic home is now a cozy B&B with three rooms and a full kitchen, all lovingly redecorated and restored by Torrence. Guests eat breakfast in vine-covered cottages in the garden, and enjoy wine tasting in the Sextant Wine tasting room, which now occupies the old store building. Craig and Nancy Stoller own 23 acres of vintage 85-year old pinot noir and chardonnay grapes next door, and rent the tasting room from Torrence and Kocan.

Several 100-year old trees provide a canopy of shade for the gardens, including walnuts, Brazilian peppers, and a row of towering Monterey Cypress. Three very old, yet prolific ‘Korean’ plum trees frame the house. Torrence smiles as she relates that visitors from Korea told her, “Those are our plums.” Hence, the name ‘Korean’ plum trees!

In keeping with the 1908-era home, vintage plants such as hydrangeas, lilacs, antique roses, giant California geraniums and snowballs edge the old-fashioned covered porch and the garden lawn. The timeworn white picket fence, which kept cows out of the garden, still defines the yard. Redwood half barrels hold ‘Edna’s edible garden’ near the early blacksmith shop.

When asked about her essential goal for the property, Pattea responded, “We want to create an old-fashioned farmhouse experience for families, to experience the peace and quiet of a former time.” Pattea recalls that her father, Walter, a builder with a strong work ethic, created a magical world including a castle and windmills at her childhood country home. She inherited his love of building, and employs it to continue creating a nostalgic setting for others to enjoy.

The next project for Pattea and Jeff, an engineer for PG&E, is the restoration of the large barn at the back of the property. Meanwhile, she’s busy raising their son and tending the gardens and buildings at her beloved Old Edna. “It is very rewarding when folks leave the Old Edna site and say this has been a very special time for them a simple life, yet very poetic.”

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