CARTHAGE, Mo. — The Goolsbys have been running the Grand Avenue Bed and Breakfast at 1615 Grand Ave. in Carthage since 1997, but the couple will welcome their last guests in August.

Michael and Jeanne Goolsby said they’ve decided this month to close their business in part because of the coronavirus pandemic and in part because it’s time for a new adventure.

Michael Goolsby said there’s a small chance they may reconsider once the pandemic is quelled, but for now, the decision is final.

“I have a feeling after being closed for a year or more we won’t feel like reopening,” Michael Goolsby said. “When and if all of the pandemic is resolved and it’s really safe to interact with the public, we’ll maybe reconsider, but we don’t have plans to reopen at this time.”

A family business

Jeanne Goolsby said she gets emotional thinking about closing, even though she’s sure it’s the right decision at the right time.

She shared some of her favorite memories by text message because talking about them makes her “kind of weepy.”

“When we first opened, our daughter, Sarah, was starting kindergarten, and she felt bad for a single man staying with us,” Jeanne Goolsby said. “She took her cereal bowl out to join him, and they had a big conversation. It was so cute, and I wish I had gotten a picture, but it was before cellphone cameras were ubiquitous.”

The couple have two children, Sarah, who is 28, married and has a 4-month-old baby, and Matt, 22, who is finishing college at Drury University in Springfield.

Jeanne Goolsby recalled that they had guests the night her son was born, so her sister came from Pittsburg, Kansas, to prepare breakfast for the guests.

Michael Goolsby, who has another job working for Jack Henry and Associates, said the bed and breakfast was an ideal business for his wife to run while raising their children.

“Originally, it was just a great way to raise a family,” Michael Goolsby said. “Jeanne could be here for the kids when they got home from school and be a stay-at-home mom, yet we had a business to run and it definitely helped the family budget over the years. I guess the thing probably we’ll miss the most is just we’ve met a lot of nice people coming through, and we’ll miss that.”

Jeanne Goolsby said she’ll miss the guests and the many special occasions created in their home.

“We’ve had people once or twice tell me they saved up all year for a special splurge to come stay at our house, which almost brought me to tears just hearing that,” she said. "It’s been so nice to create a space where so many people have come for special occasions, lots of proposals and even a couple of weddings. It’s been a joy and an honor to be a part of so many peoples’ lives and memories.”

Pandemic issues

Michael Goolsby said they tried to operate normally during the pandemic, but too many guests didn’t follow the rules forced on the Goolsbys' business by the virus and CDC guidelines.

“People just couldn’t comprehend social distancing and wearing their masks, and we didn’t feel like having an argument with our guests,” he said. “It really just came down to my wife and I are nearing 60, and we’re in good health, but with the coronavirus, that’s not necessarily protection."

Michael Goolsby said the couple’s children are grown, and they have young grandchildren so they didn’t want to put their health at risk.

He said they took all the precautions they could and put up signs asking that guests wear masks in crowded parts of the house and social distance when possible.

“I don't think anyone appreciates some of the lifetime health consequences that survivors are facing,” Michael Goolsby said. “We never got in an argument with anybody on it, we never corrected anyone, but we don’t want to be that. We don’t want to get in a fight with our guests over how to behave. So if they can’t behave, we’re just going to shut down.”

Wrapping up

The Queen Anne Victorian style home was built in 1893 and is also known locally as the Carmean Home after A.F. Carmean, who was the second owner of the home.

According to the book “Home Sweet Home: A Look Inside Some of Carthage’s Historic Homes” by the late Carthage Historian Sue Vandergriff, the house cost $8,000 to build, but the builder, S.H. Houser, sold the home to Carmean for $7,500 when his business failed.

It was a functioning bed and breakfast before the Goolsbys bought it.

Carthage resident Betty Pritchard said she grew up in the home, and her mother, Halene Oexman, owned it until 1989. She didn’t remember the next owner’s name, but that owner turned the home into a bed and breakfast over the next year.

The home had two owners between Oexman and the Goolsbys, Pritchard said.

The book says the home has four bedrooms for rent, each with its own bathroom. Including the living quarters, the home has seven bedrooms and seven bathrooms.

Vandergriff wrote that the home originally had a rounded turret on the north side, but the turret was removed because of water damage.

On the website for the Grand Avenue Bed and Breakfast, the Goolsbys said they had plans to restore the turret, but it was going to be an expensive project.

Michael Goolsby said the couple plans to continue the renovations, but in the meantime, there are still a few more guests to tend on the schedule in August.

“We didn’t want to leave anybody high and dry, so we’ve got two more guests scheduled before we are done,” he said. “We shut off new reservations about three weeks ago and we’ll work out the run, and that’ll be it.”

Michael Goolsby said he and his wife have discussed putting the home on the market in the next couple of years.

“Hopefully it’ll be something that another young family can come and enjoy and appreciate and have good experiences in too,” Goolsby said. “In a couple of years maybe the virus will be a memory and traveling will be something people want to do again.”