Dan and Janet Abbott's Story :: Bob Jones University Alumni and Friends
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From Washington to Washington:

Dedicated to the Glory of God

Dan Abbott's Story

Dan Abbott can’t pinpoint exactly what inspired him to such an ambitious vision.
Maybe it was the breathtaking scenery—the snow-capped Olympic Mountains rise majestically in the distance, while the peaceful Strait of Juan de Fuca gently laps against the shore. Maybe it was his love of history—specifically George Washington. The idea to create a replica of Mount Vernon as a bed and breakfast was about to become a reality.

I couldn’t believe a place like this was for sale.

An Unexpected Location

“We wanted a working retirement, something like a small farm where I grew up.” But here on the northernmost tip of Washington state, Dan and his wife Janet began dreaming, and that dreaming turned into bigger plans. “I couldn’t believe a place like this was for sale. The property blew my budget,” Dan recalls with a laugh.

While still living in South Carolina they began eyeing a beautiful parcel of property, perched atop a cliff that overlooked the waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca (which separates Washington state and Canada) and sat below the towering peaks of the snow-capped Olympic Mountains. They were drawn to it because it was so picturesque and appeared to fit exactly what they had envisioned. With a full-time job as a financial advisor, no connections in Washington state, and no idea how to begin building such a dream, Dan reached out to Brad Slocum, an old college friend from their time together at Bob Jones University. 

Brad, a carpentry professor at the BJU School of Applied Studies, was looking for a project that filled the gap of his summer months. The timing was perfect. For five weeks in the summer of 2004, Brad and his hand-picked group of students flew out to the property and built a carriage house for the first phase of development. While they stood reviewing the completed work, Brad turned to Dan. “When you’re ready to build the main house, I want to do that too.”

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A Tall Order

To replicate Mt. Vernon was a tall order, and Dan was thrilled to have a trustworthy partner. But at that point, he had no plans drawn up for the main house. Like most entrepreneurs, Dan bought some software and, with no prior experience, set to work. Slowly, the idea became a reality. He called Brad one night with the words: “I have a design.” The rest was history.

A year later, Brad visited Dan and Janet to discuss the details of the project. “I have a fantastic group of students,” he said. “I want to start building next May.” Dan scrambled. There were zoning issues, permits to obtain, and panic set in when Dan was informed that one permit could delay construction by at least six months. This delay would put them well behind schedule, and they would miss the summer building window that the students had available. Dan remembers several frantic phone calls back and forth with the officials. “Finally, the head of the permit office himself gave us permission to proceed with construction prior to obtaining the final permit. Without that, we never could have begun building on schedule. God’s hand was in it all.” Once again, Brad and his students set to work.

Building from Afar

Managing a project from 2,900 miles away—and across three time zones—is difficult. Dan did his best to stay connected with the work while balancing his full-time job in SC. “Every evening when they were done working, they would send me pictures of the day’s progress. I woke up early every morning, excited to see the pictures. I would send feedback that Brad would use that day to guide construction.” It was far from an ideal situation.“It would never have worked with anyone else,” Dan acknowledged. “But I could trust Brad, and it was a special crew.”

Constructing an Iconic Masterpiece

Each of the carpenters worked tirelessly every day to complete the work within the few short months they had for summer break. They framed its towering walls, constructed the double porches that overlook the water, erected the portico, and built the iconic cupola (which boasts a 360-degree view only a few have ever seen). 

Two of the students remained after the summer to complete the final punch list while Janet sewed the drapes, picked out paint colors, and hand-selected appropriate furniture. Final preparations for the grand opening were made, and in February 2008, the George Washington Inn was open for business.

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Celebration Turned to Sorrow

Once the house was completed, it was everything Dan and Janet had envisioned—which from the outside looked almost exactly like the real Mt. Vernon (with a few subtle modifications). “The George Washington Inn” would be among their friend Brad’s best—but final—construction projects. Just a few short years after its completion, Brad passed away. Today as Dan walks up the circular driveway and eyes the cupola atop, memories flood his mind of Brad, his friend and the builder who left his imprints upon every square inch of this house. It became his legacy.

Operating the Inn from a Distance

Now that the Inn was open, only one piece of business remained unresolved: Dan had made a promise and was determined to faithfully finish out the obligation to his employer. On location, Janet, prepared by her experiences and time at BJU, ran the day-to-day operations of the Inn almost single-handed for several years.

Together, Dan and Janet dreamed of new additions, including planting a field of lavender and plotting a local bike trail. The Inn created its own line of lavender products, including soap, lotion, and essential oil. They even roasted a new blend of coffee (“George Washington Coffee”), itself an homage to the importance of coffee in revolutionary America and the perfect companion to quiet mornings spent along the peninsula. These improvements helped to increase the Inn’s popularity, but all along, Dan and Janet understood there was a greater opportunity to be had.

The Inn as a Mission

With hundreds of guests each year, the Inn presented the Abbotts with a unique opportunity to share the gospel. The Inn was, from the beginning, “Dedicated to the glory of God and the faith of George Washington.” Every guest that visits receives a gospel tract, written by the famous Revolutionary-era preacher George Whitfield, and every room has a biography of George Washington, detailing his deep, personal faith in God. In the Inn’s main lobby, there is a photo-book about the life and testimony of Peter Smith, one of the BJU student workers who worked on the construction. Tragically, Peter passed away from liver cancer at the age of 25 only a few years after his trip. All of these touchpoints are gospel lights Dan and Janet use to share Christ with guests—their life-long mission.

Dan recalls that one of the most special moments at the Inn for him and Janet was the opportunity to host Dr. Bob III and Beneth Jones, along with their children and grandchildren, for Beneth’s 80th birthday. Dan remembers that visit from the Jones family fondly. “That was such a blessing to have their whole family. It was just special.”

Dedicated to the glory of God and the faith of George Washington.

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“Washington would be pleased.”

While many local articles have featured the George Washington Inn, nationally syndicated pieces including the Seattle Times have promoted it as well. The Inn has hosted a vice-regent of the Mount Vernon estate who related that she thought “George Washington would be very pleased to see what is out here.” They’ve also received countless, enthusiastic reviews from guests of the Inn. What began with an ambitious vision, the Lord has blessed with success and opportunities to spread the gospel, while allowing Dan and Janet to take joy in the work they have been given to do. “We live in such a paradise out here,” Dan says. “I’m so thankful we can share it with others.”

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