Tara Point: Three rooms, river view

News-DemocratDecember 8, 2013 

Tara Point Inn bed and breakfast sits high on the bluff in Grafton, allowing guests to see miles of the Illinois and Mississippi rivers.

Alison and Mark Rohan rent out three bedrooms in the main house and eight cottage suites nestled in woods.

"You can't beat the view," said guest Dan Hall, 48, of Vandalia, who stayed for a recent weekend with his fiancee, Aspen Garzia.

The business was founded 22 years ago by Alison's parents, the late Margaret and Larry Wright.

The Rohans live in half of the house. Alison's sister, Sara Meyers, delivers food for breakfast baskets once a week from her Ladue, Mo., market.

Glen Carbon residents Diane and Larry Jones have been regulars at Tara Point for 13 years.

"It was our stress reliever when we were working," Diane said. "We'd go up twice a year, once in the fall for the colors and once in the winter to watch eagles."

Now that the Joneses are retired -- Diane as an admissions officer at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and Larry as service manager with Cassens car dealership -- they can go during the week.

They usually stay in the cottages, which have dens with wet bars, porches, electric fireplaces and whirlpool tubs.

"It's absolutely fantastic," Diane said. "It's so serene. You can go out on the porch and have a glass of wine and just sit there forever, taking it all in."

Larry Wright was president of a company that manufactured and sold pens and other promotional items. He and Margaret originally lived in Town and Country, Mo.

The name "Tara Point" was a running joke. The couple had owned a small clubhouse on the river and called it "Tara" after the plantation in "Gone with the Wind."

The Wrights bought the blufftop property in 1978.

"Grafton was very different back then," Alison said. "It was just a little river town, and this was just my parents' little getaway."

Eventually, the couple tore down a barn and small home built around two trailers and replaced them with their 6,000-square-foot dream home.

The result was so beautiful, they decided to share it with the public by opening a bed and breakfast in 1991.

"Many of our guests feel like family," Alison said. "They come year after year. You get to know them. I have a couple who come for a week every year from Wisconsin."

The Rohans took over Tara Point in 2008, after Margaret died, although Mark still operates his own truck and equipment business. Larry had died eight years earlier.

Guests in the main house have private bathrooms and share a rec room with a pool table, shuffleboard, flat-screen TV, a wall of windows and doors to a redwood deck with a panoramic view.

Decor includes a mounted deer, elk, lion, buffalo, bobcat and other animals and waterfowl that Larry hunted.

"My father was a jokester," Alison said. "He put the hand in the lion's mouth, and he put the flood-level sticker on the sliding-glass door, even though we're 250 feet above the water.

"And he put up the sign that says, 'Please don't feed the animals. They're stuffed.'"

Guests in the main house eat breakfast in the Rohan's kitchen, off an elegant, window-lined living room with white carpeting and furniture, a grand piano and telescope.

Sometimes Alison takes them up in a circular glass elevator to the second floor "wheel house."

"This was Dad's man cave," she said, noting Larry displayed his nautical collection and flashed lights to greet tugboat captains on the river.

Rooms in the main house at Tara Point rent for $168 a night on Sundays through Thursdays or $192 on Fridays and Saturdays.

Cottage suites run $180 on Sundays through Thursdays or $216 on Fridays and Saturdays.

"The cottages are more popular because they're more private," Alison said. "We've had a number of engagements, anniversaries and honeymoons, but we've never had a wedding."

For information on Tara Point, call 618-786-3555.

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