SOUTHPORT — Four years ago Cathi and Rick Ulrich were living and working in separate states when they met by chance at a bed and breakfast in Beaufort, North Carolina. They married a year later and in 2015 the couple moved to coastal North Carolina where their relationship began.
It’s by coincidence, Cathi Ulrich said, the couple has come to own and operate the Bell-Clemmons House Bed and Breakfast, a Civil War-era home at 313 E. Moore St. near the heart of Southport. Last Tuesday, they celebrated a year of operation during a ribbon cutting ceremony with members of the Southport-Oak Island Camber of Commerce.
The Bell-Clemmons House was built in 1864 and became a boarding house in the early 1900s. A century later, it was completely renovated and turned into bed and breakfast. Cathi and Rick Ulrich purchased the home in December 2014 and made the business their own.
The bed and breakfast is a new venture for the couple. Cathi Ulrich said they weren’t looking to get into the hospitality business when they moved from Kansas City, Missouri, to Southport.
“Most of my career was investment banking. And my husband owned and ran a commercial construction company,” Cathi Ulrich said. “We wanted to move to Southport for quality of life.”
Rick and Cathi Ulrich, who married about three years ago, have since retired from the corporate life. When they started to look for homes in the Southport area, Cathi Ulrich, fell in love with the Bell-Clemmons House kitchen gas stove and double ovens.
The couple decided to purchase the historic home and pursue many of their favorite hobbies while serving guests visiting the Southport community. Cathi Ulrich said their focus now is on “making memories” with their guests.
“I love the town. Both of us do. The community is fantastic,” Cathi Ulrich said. “Now that I’m in Southport, I’m never leaving.”
Touting a relaxing atmosphere within walking distance of Southport’s shops and waterfront, the home provides guests with four room options, each with a full bath. The rooms are decorated with an eclectic mix of antiques and cottage-style pieces, many of which were found in Southport’s shops.
Business has been steady in the first year of operation. Cathi Ulrich said the home has been filled with guests every weekend since February, with some guests returning for their second or third stay.
While most of their initial business came from social media and marketing, Cathi Ulrich said a lot of guests now are coming in by referrals and word-of-mouth. The couple operates the bed and breakfast with the help of one full-time employee.
According to the chamber, the Bell-Clemmons House is one of five bed and breakfast locations in the Southport area. For more information about the Bell-Clemmons House Bed and Breakfast, including rooms and services, visit the website.