Jim & Elizabeth Clark
Jim and Elizabeth Clark are the third owners of Spruce Hill Inn & Cottages. Spruce Hill originally began operating in 2001. They took possession and management of the property in October 2006. They have one 10-year old boy named Timothy who attends Mansfield Christian School. Jim and Elizabeth were introduced to each other through a friend at their church, had a 6-month courtship through letters, then got married in the Philippines in 1998. When Elizabeth moved to the United States in 1999, she became Jim’s office assistant in his tax and accounting office. In 2006, when their house in Anaheim, California appraised high in value, they thought of pulling out the equity and investing in income-producing properties. They found Spruce Hill on the internet, which was up for sale, flew to Ohio, fell in love with the property and bought it.
Elizabeth, without any formal hotel management education, jumped right into the daily operations of Spruce Hill. She worked by herself for the first two years, as Jim still had his tax business to take care of in California. He would fly back and forth between Ohio and California two to three times a year for work, and to be with his wife and child. Elizabeth made a lot of upgrades and improvements to the property –installing new boards for the front porches, new roofs, new floors, new water heaters and air conditioners, staining the decks, repainting and redecorating the rooms, landscaping the grounds, and paving portions of the drive. She had aggressively promoted the facility to churches, companies, ski groups, families, and schools. She came up with several attractive room packages which cross-promoted the services and products of other local businesses, such as restaurants and recreation centers. She actively had involved herself with housekeeping and hosting duties to ensure that Spruce Hill would deliver an excellent service. In the mornings, after taking her son to school, Elizabeth would prepare a full hot breakfast for the guests. Instead of the usual continental breakfast of cold cereal and doughnuts, guests would enjoy her famous seasoned hash browns, french toast, bacon, sausage and eggs, and fresh cut fruit.
2006 and 2007 were great years for Spruce Hill, but 2008 and 2009 brought about new challenges when the economic downturn affected the lodging sector so much that Spruce Hill was not spared of empty rooms and lagging revenues. Paying loan mortgages for both Spruce Hill and the house in California was no longer possible for the Clark family, so they gave up their house in California and decided to finally settle in Ohio. Jim had a garage sale of most of their belongings, and then loaded his mini trailer with his computer and printer, his work tools, few boxes of his tax clients’ files, some office and home furniture, some kitchenware, and a couple suitcases of his clothes. On September 12, 2009 Jim left California, his home for nearly 40 years, and without looking back he set off on a long 4-day trip to Ohio.
In the midst of the difficulties lie opportunities. Jim and Elizabeth believe that they are brought to Ohio for a purpose, and Spruce Hill fell into their hands for good reasons. They can feel in their hearts that they have a mission to accomplish, and a vision to carry out. Today they are proud to call Mansfield, Ohio their home, and they feel blessed to be with a supportive community whose patronage will contribute to the improvement and advancement of the property, so that it may reach its full potential! The vision of Spruce Hill is to not only serve as a traditional lodging facility, but also as Ohio’s Retreat & Training Center, where people’s lives are touched and changed through education. With the purpose of helping the youth and families and stimulating the local economy, Jim and Elizabeth are doing what they can to bring people and their business to the area. With the beauty and uniqueness that Spruce Hill offers, it is truly an asset to Mansfield and Richland County, to neighboring cities and counties, and to Ohio as a whole! And when their time is up, and they need to pass the baton to someone else who would continue with their vision of Spruce Hill, they hope to simply be called “good and faithful stewards”.