Mary finished her undergraduate work in Music Education with Honors. She was an accompanist for many clubs and organizations on and around campus and was enrolled in a Graduate program in Piano Accompaniment when she met Jerry.
Jerry enrolled at UW Madison in 1964 in Pre Med. He changed to Music in 1967 and graduated with a Voice Major in 1969. After graduation, he became a Choral/Music Director at various schools and churches throughout the area.
After they married, they spent their honeymoon in northern WI where they discovered Bayfield while antiquing. They bought a large Victorian house in Oregon, WI, which they renovated & restored, furnishing it with antiques. It was here where they began to dabble in catering and hospitality.
In 1973, the Mansion at 301 Rittenhouse Inn came up for sale and they purchased it. Starting in 1974, they lived in Bayfield during summers and started renting rooms. They offered breakfast for an additional fee and decided to put in private baths. They had the kitchen enlarged and in 1976 moved to Bayfield, starting the restaurant where Mary cooked and Jerry baked. Mary often would come out of the kitchen to play the piano in between courses!
In 1977, they started the Rittenhouse Singers and Wassail Dinner Concerts. In 1979 they bought Carriage Antiques in Hayward, WI and Jerry got his Auctioneer’s License. Mary ran the Inn while Jerry ran the Antique Shop with his sister, Julie. Over the years, they purchased and renovated additional properties and in 1992 closed the antique store when Mary had a stroke and could no longer work in the kitchen.
In 1994, Mary and Jerry helped to form the WI Bed & Breakfast Association and in 2000 Jerry was hired as CEO of the Professional Assoc. of Innkeepers International at which time they moved to the Santa Barbara Headquarters. Jerry and Mary returned to the Inn in 2004, with Mark and Wendy joining them.
In 2014 the Jerry & Mary Phillips Award for Volunteerism in Bayfield was established with an anonymous $25,000 donation. Jerry & Mary were the first recipients.
We are pleased and honored to recognize Jerry and Mary Phillips as our Chequamegon Bay Alumni Badgers of the Year!