Historic Mansion Restored as Boutique Hotel
By Ken Kosky |
Posted: Monday, September 20, 2010

CHESTERTON | A historic Indiana Dunes-area mansion, in such poor condition some feared it would be torn down, has been completely redone and now is open.

The mansion now is a boutique hotel – a site for weddings and other events.

DunesWalk Inn at the Furness Mansion, which had its grand opening Aug. 26, features three rooms and two suites for those who want to get away for an overnight stay, a weekend or a week at the Dunes. It’s located just off U.S. 20 at 1491 N. Furnleigh Lane, near the Schoolhouse Shop.

Chicago resident and contractor Ari Killian, whose family has had a summer home in Beverly Shores since the 1940s, said he was driving past the three-story brick mansion last year and saw a for sale sign. He envisioned an upscale yet affordable place for individuals or whole families to stay that’s just minutes from the Dunes.

He bought the building and, in January, had his company, Consortian Construction, set to work restoring it – keeping all four exterior walls and salvaging interior pieces such as the decorative air vents and the staircase.

He then reconstructed the interior with new plumbing, electrical, walls and floors. The rooms are insulated to minimize noise and feature private baths and individual climate control systems.

The inn has flat-screen televisions in each room, kitchenettes in all but one room and coin-operated laundry service. One of the suites has a fireplace, whirlpool bath and accommodations for six; the other suite sleeps five and has a deck and fireplace.

Killian said his wife, Stephanie, chose the palette of interior wall earth tones for a “dunes feel” and also picked the countertops and the shower materials.

Meet the Owners

Ari Killian and his wife Stephanie are the sole proprietors of the DunesWalk Inn which is still known to many as the Furness Mansion.

A third-generation Beverly Shores resident, Ari decided to purchase the property last December after finding the house was quickly falling into disrepair.

Ari used his own construction firm to renovate the house into an upscale vacation rental spot. The main renovation took place over six months, starting in January and on July 23, the Killians welcomed their first guests.

Ari told the Chesterton Tribune the history of the property was one of the driving forces behind the project. Ari even added on brick chimneys to the house that would mimic the ones seen around 1881 when the house was built. The powered windows in the library mimic the appearance of the original windows.

“You have to get that feel,” he said.

During the ribbon ceremony, Ari thanked the neighboring residents and businesses like the Schoolhouse Shop for their help during the rehab of the property. He said the experience was different for him because he is used to “placating” upset neighbors in his other developments while here people were more than willing to lend a hand.

Ari and Stephanie wed in Rhode Island in May while renovation was underway. They have residences in Beverly Shores and Chicago where Ari works as a commercial and residential developer and has received recognition from the Chicago Commission on Landmarks.

Ari said his family has lived in the area since his grandfather bought property in Beverly Shores in 1944.

Taking Reservations and Donations

The Dunes Walk Inn is located at 1491 N. Furnleigh Lane off of U.S. 20 near the intersection of Kemil Rd. and Furnessville Rd.

The E. L. Furness Mansion sat on Furness’ prosperous 700 acres of farmland. A few original buildings still stand on the property including a partially dismantled water tower. Furness was the first agent of the Michigan Central Railroad and owned his own lumber business.

The new owners have asked that anyone willing to donate photos or books on the Indiana Dunes for the library contact the inn.

The Dunes Walk Inn is officially open for business. For reservations, call (219)728-6393. Rates range from $125 to $175 per night and are subject to change without notice.

Additional News Articles

The News Dispatch

Posted: Sunday, November 21, 2010
Room At the Inn

Chesterton Tribune

Posted: Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Newly Opened DunesWalk Inn Blends History with
Modern Amenities

NWI Times

Posted: Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Indian Dunes Tourism,DunesWalk Inn Team Up

NWI Times

Posted: Monday, September 20, 2010
Historic Mansion Restored as Boutique Hotel

Chesterton Tribune

Posted: Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Furness House Set to open as Vacation Inn

DunesWalk Inn Press Release

Posted: May 12, 2010
Furness Mansion Gets a total Makeover as
DunesWalk Inn

The Chronicle

Posted: Wednesday, October 6, 2010
A Living Piece of History


Posted: Monday, October 18, 2010
Landmark Gets News Look

  • “I can’t exaggerate the marvelous time we enjoyed at DunesWalk Inn…the perfect place in the perfect location for total relaxation.”

    Margaret — Madison, Wisconsin

  • “My extended family members and I liked DunesWalk Inn so much that we have decided to make it our annual retreat!”

    Leslie — Valparaiso, Indiana

  • “Our whole party was totally impressed with how beautiful the place is. Doug and I absolutely loved it!”

    Doug & Sherrie — Grayling, Michigan

  • “The historic mansion has been lovingly transformed into a gorgeous boutique hotel. It has a serene, spa-like interior…”

    Patricia — Milwaukee, Wisconsin

  • “DunesWalk Inn is the place to stay if you want to be spoiled by luxury and have fun in the Dunes.”

    Viktoria — Vernon Hills, Illinois