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[February 14, 2013]
Innkeepers' long-distance love story
GLOUCESTER, Feb 14, 2013 (Daily Press (Newport News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- The journey of Troy and Theresa Stavens, owners and innkeepers at the Inn at Warner Hall, began as something entirely different.
It took a long time for the couple whose relationship started as strictly business to reach their current station in life.
"We met in 1987 over the phone," she said, when they were both in the brokerage business.
The coast to coast calls happened around 7 a.m. with Theresa in New Canaan, Conn., and Troy three hours behind in Los Angeles.
"That was early enough," he said with a smile.
The two would bond with each call made, although geographic and professional concerns didn't lead them to take their relationship further than just a working one.
"He was always intriguing," she said. "He had a great telephone voice." An incident with a bad transaction that impacted both of their respective financial firms further cemented the future they would build together.
Although the incident was not his fault, Troy Stavens took the blame on behalf on his firm, and a resolution regarding payments was reached over the botched trade.
"His instinct was to do the right thing," she said. "It made me look at him in a different light." The pair previously met in person three times for business, but it was Theresa attending a wedding in Los Angeles as Troy's date that moved their relationship to the next step.
"It was an 'a-ha' moment," he said.
Theresa's firm had an office set up for her in Los Angeles in June 1989, and the two were married in April 1990.
In 1992, the Stavens formed their own investment management company and moved to Williamsburg, as they had family in the area.
"We felt (Hampton Roads) was a utopia," she said.
Despite their business careers, their passions were in hospitality and historic preservation. They were on the lookout for properties to acquire and renovate, and in July 1997 during a cab ride, the driver gave Theresa Stavens a recommendation about a property in Gloucester that was on the market for years.
"(The cab driver) was obsessed about our conversation," Theresa Stavens said.
The cab driver took the Stavens to Warner Hall, and they fell in love with it and bought the property. Just like their former professional lives in the business world, they invested heavily in making the property the best it can be.
"It was a long process of renovation from top to bottom," she said. "This wasn't rolling the dice -- this was all in." The Stavens moved their resources to Warner Hall, and it has been a success by their measures, as it has hosted numerous conferences and weddings. They also run various promotions to attract visitors in Hampton Roads and beyond.
The Stavens, along with their dogs George and Martha, the so-called first family of Warner Hall, display their passion for hospitality through each guest and event that visits the historic property that was established in 1642 by George Washington's great-great grandfather. Its also listed by the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission.
As husband-and-wife innkeepers, it took time for them to adapt to each other's strengths in running Warner Hall.
"She was born to the entertainment side of things," Troy Stavens said.
"Troy is an incredible listener," Theresa Stavens said.
The key to a long and lasting relationship, whether personal of processional, is compromise, they say.
"We agree that the end result is the goal," he said.
"Compromise should be joyful, not painful," she said. "We do have to reach a consensus. We have to speak with one voice." It also helps to be friends with your partner, Theresa Stavens said. "I always feel he's got my back" To which her husband replied with a laugh, "I won't throw you under the bus." News to use For more information on the Inn and Warner Hall, call 800-331-2720 or visit
More online To view more photos of the Stavens and Warner Hall, go to
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