Warren and Susie Harshman added a new 50-by-100-foot limestone pavilion last year to their Clover Cliff Ranch Bed and Breakfast eight miles east of Florence. Junior Grimmett of Florence was the builder.
The pavilion sits on a hill above the main house and is connected to it by a wide walkway.
Large glass windows on three sides are framed in rich oak. A large, roofed back patio with two fire pits provides a panoramic view of the rolling Flint Hills.
The main house and three outbuildings can house 31 people.
“We can sleep quite a few people,” Susie said, “but we did not have a place for retreats or other large-group events. Besides, there was not another place in the area to hold large events, so we are filling a niche.”
They also added an 18-hole disc golf course. A three-mile walking path surrounds the course, which includes four swinging bridges. Guests play for free, but people who aren’t guests are welcome to play the course for a small fee.
In April, 900 players from throughout the United States came to play in an official disc golf tournament.
The pavilion can seat 250 people. It includes a full-size commercial kitchen and is available for reunions, weddings, and retreats of all kinds.
Round tables for meals and white folding chairs for seating are available, along with table linens, china, glassware, and flatware.
Sound systems are inside and out, and Internet access is available.
Weddings have been the most popular events so far and can be staged inside or out.
“It’s interesting to see the different ideas wedding parties come up with,” Susie said.
A pond north of the building ran dry this summer. Warren used a bulldozer to remove 15 feet of sediment. When the pond refills, it will be stocked with fish and available to guests.
Warren said he bought the ranch to keep them busy as they get older. The Harshmans own a rock quarry at Florence. When Warren turns over the operation to their four sons, maintaining the ranch and bed and breakfast will keep him occupied.
Clover Cliff Ranch presumably got its name from the surrounding limestone cliffs and the purple blooms of alfalfa that covered the Cottonwood River bottomland. The owner, Jacob Blackshere, is credited with bringing alfalfa to the state.
Blackshere homesteaded the 160-acre ranch in 1860 and built a one-room cabin from fieldstones.
That one room is still part of the main house. A kitchen, dining room and upstairs bedroom were added first, using cut limestone. In 1887, Blackshere added more upstairs bedrooms and a downstairs sitting room.
Berkshere had expanded the ranch to 4,635 acres by the time of his death in 1874. It included a large stone barn for horses and mules, a bunkhouse, and 14 residences for married ranch hands.
Homer and Katheryn Prather bought the ranch in 1907. They replaced a wooden porch with a large veranda supported by stone pillars. The ranch was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. It remained in the Prather family until 1987, when Jim and Joan Donahue of rural Lincolnville bought it and made the house into a bed and breakfast.
The Harshmans bought the ranch from the Donahue estate in February 2014 and renovated the house and bunkhouse. They continue to make improvements to all the buildings on the property. Warren runs feeder cattle on the grass during the summer.