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Boring bed and breakfast is a place where worlds collide

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: ANNE ENDICOTT - Fagan's Haven owner Jane McClain sits in the Wyoming Room at her Boring bed and breakfast. A longtime quilter, McClain stitched the colorful bed covering in her on-site quilting studio.

The guest books at Fagan’s Haven bed and breakfast in Boring extol the hospitality and serenity of both the venue and its proprietor, Jane McClain.

But one of the acknowledgments closest to McClain’s heart isn’t in a book. It’s handwritten on a paper napkin.

“One of my regular guests comes out here to escape,” McClain said. “She has a high-pressure job and stays here two or three days every so often to sew. After she left one time, I found a note on one of the tables in the studio. It said, ‘Your world means the world to me.’ One of these days I’ll get around to framing it because that meant a lot.”

The cozy bed and breakfast inn, off Highway 212 in the Damascus city limits, is as welcoming and laid-back as its owner. It’s not easy to find, nestled in an established residential neighborhood, and may well live up to its reputation as “the best-kept secret in Oregon.” But area quilters who hole up for weekends in the detached 1,000-square-foot studio know it well. So do McClain’s “regulars,” who return time and again for her farm-like breakfasts, nearly 1 acre of serene landscaping and brace of ducks for companionship.

Yet the main attraction is probably McClain herself. She exudes a Mother Earth type presence, feeding her Muscovy ducks by hand and tending to a small garden.

A paralegal by profession, McClain is also a longtime quilter, with a background as colorful and varied as the vibrant patterns on the handmade quilts adorning her home. In her lifetime, she has worked as a waitress in a greasy spoon in Montana, at a baby carriage factory and slaughterhouse in Australia, and raised and shown American Staffordshire terriers (pit bulls) in the southern United States.

These days, her wanderlust somewhat tempered, she prefers to open her home to those who bring the world to her.

McClain, 65, was born in Lusk, Wyo. The daughter of a long-haul truck driver, she spent her early years living out of a suitcase until her father laid down roots in Lusk as a local attorney. McClain grew up not far from the house where her father was raised, which, in hindsight, might have predicted her future.

“The old house where Dad grew up was called the Fagan House,” she said. “My dad always told me he would buy that house for me, if I agreed to live in it. I told him no way was I going to live in Lusk. Oddly enough, it’s now a bed and breakfast.”

McClain married her high school sweetheart, Dick, in Arlington, Texas, in 1969. The couple promptly moved to Sydney, Australia, and later to Dawson, where their daughter Mikki was born in 1972. The family returned to the United States in 1973, living in Montana and Texas, before purchasing their first home in Artesia, N.M., in the mid-1970s.

Succumbing to her father’s broad hints, McClain returned to school in the late 1970s to study pre-law. She completed her undergraduate degree in 1982 and was accepted into law school at the University of Wyoming in Laramie. But after graduating in 1986, she found herself a single parent and in need of a change in scenery.

“My sister, Joyce, and I had taken a trip together a few years earlier, right before I started law school and she got married,” McClain recalled. “At the time, our lives as we knew them were going to change, so we took a trip to Alaska. It was one of those times where every time I got off the plane, I knew I could live there. All my sister would say was, ‘I would visit you here.’ Except Nome. She refused to visit if I moved there.” by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: ANNE ENDICOTT - Hand-stitched quilt panels identify the names of Fagans Haven guest rooms and were made by regular quilters at the B & B. This panel hangs on the door of the Alaska Room.

McClain packed up her daughter and moved to Anchorage. She went to work for the Alaska Office of Special Prosecution and Appeals, with the understanding that a permanent position was contingent upon receiving her license. McClain lost interest in becoming a licensed attorney, however, when attempts to pass the bar didn’t go so well. Instead, she found success as a paralegal, which she continues to do part-time for a firm in downtown Portland.

But juggling a career and a young child left McClain with little time to sew and quilt, a common passion she and Joyce had shared since childhood. Plus, with Joyce in Oregon and McClain in Alaska, times spent together stitching were few and far between because of the geographic barriers.

“I sent my sister an email one day, after I had a dream,” McClain said. “It was something about a place where she could come over, we could sew and I would cook and vacuum up her loose thread clippings. My sister said, ‘That sounds nice. Where is it?’ I told her it was in my head.”

In 2004, while visiting Joyce, who lived in Gresham at the time, McClain decided to test the real estate market to bring her vision to reality. Her criteria was a home suitable for a bed and breakfast, but one with a “rumpus room or bonus room” large enough for groups of quilters or crafters. After looking at 14 houses, McClain and Joyce found the ranch-style home on Hollyview Terrace in Boring.

“The garage had been turned into a bonus room and I thought that would work for a studio,” McClain recalled. “But then the owner asked if I wanted to see the shop, an outbuilding behind the house. They were going to turn it into a welding shop, but hadn’t done it yet. I could see the potential, and that’s when I knew this is where I needed to be.”

McClain returned to Alaska, leaving her sister in charge of securing the licenses and permits required to open an in-home business. She managed part of the renovation project long-distance, finally moving into the home in 2006.

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: ANNE ENDICOTT - McClain keeps nearly two dozen ducks on her property, which also features a waterfall and small garden. She frequently offers duck eggs as part of her breakfast menu.

Fagan’s Haven offers three guest rooms, two with sliding doors leading to the backyard and one with a private bath. The rooms are named for the landmark areas important in McClain’s life — New Mexico, Wyoming and Alaska — and decorated with family heirlooms and native artifacts. Each bed is covered with a quilt handmade by McClain or her guests, while welcome baskets in each room hold toothbrushes and other essentials guests might need. Bookcases brim with a wide assortment of movies and books for guests, and a small nook off the kitchen offers coffees, teas and between-meal snacks.

But McClain’s studio is nothing short of nirvana for quilters. Extra sewing machines, irons and ironing boards, along with walls of design books and additional “quilting toys” are available for use by guests. Two 8-foot-square design walls allow quilters to hang their work as they experiment with a quilt layout. The interior is flooded with natural light, through skylights and an 8-foot-by-12-foot sliding door and window framed by quilts made by McClain’s mother. On a clear day, Mount Hood appears to be within reach through the oversized window.

McClain designed Fagan’s Haven to be a place where her world and that of her visitors collide. It’s a homey oasis that sends guests back to their world in better balance after spending time in McClain’s world.

“People come to a bed and breakfast for the home atmosphere,” McClain said. “And that’s what they get here —my stuff is around, and this is my home. You will never leave hungry, the coffee’s always on and you’re always welcome. My favorite guests are the ones staying here at any given time.”

If you go

Who: Fagan’s Haven bed and breakfast inn

Where: Off Highway 212 in Boring

What: Three guest rooms and 1,000-square-foot studio for quilters and crafters; McClain serves a continental breakfast Monday through Thursday, with a full farm breakfast of homemade fare Friday through Sunday; room rates run from $65-$85 per night. Advance reservations are required.

Call: 503-658-2010.

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