WISCONSIN RAPIDS – A new family is adding to the 134-year-old legacy of the Arpin house on First Street North in Wisconsin Rapids.
Mike and Rachel Stormoen are the new owners of the house and have continued operating Le Chateau Bed & Breakfast at 840 First St. N. in Wisconsin Rapids. The previous owners – Bill and Faye Collier – owned the house since 2015 and opened its doors as a bed and breakfast in 2016.
While both Mike and Rachel grew up in Wisconsin Rapids, Rachel was always drawn to the historic three-story house with a wrap-around porch that stood along the river. But it wasn’t always the brown-and-tan house that people recognize today.
Rachel said she grew up in the neighborhood and would go for walks with her mother. She said she remembers walking by the house that had been painted “an ugly green color” with a huge teddy bear looking out a third-floor window, and she told her mom, “I’m going to own that someday.”
It’s a conversation Rachel’s mom reminded her of when she and Mike bought the house in August.
“Don’t ever let someone tell you your dreams are silly,” Rachel said. “But then don’t sit in that dream state. do it.”
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All roads led back home.
Rachel said she and Mike were a little nervous to run the bed and breakfast out of that home, but it felt like everything up to that point led the whole family toward that opportunity.
A study abroad opportunity in school sparked interest in travel and international studies in Rachel, leading her to work on a five-star cruise ship. There, she learned how to serve meals, set tables and make beds to a high standard – all beneficial skills in running a bed and breakfast. Later, a job at a chocolate company in Madison gave her experience planning events. An entrepreneur class taught her how to build a business plan, and an assignment for that class led to Rachel opening a wedding planning business.
While living in Madison, Rachel said she felt a pull to be closer to home. The Stormoen family, with three children at the time, moved back to Grand Rapids. Mike and Rachel began looking into running a rental home with Airbnb and talked about starting that opportunity in 2023 when Le Chateau came up for sale.
As soon as she saw the listing, Rachel said she felt she and her family had to go for it. It was not quite what she and her husband had planned, and it was sooner than they expected, but she felt it was a great opportunity that might not come up again anytime soon. She said she prayed about the decision when she saw the listing, and then told her husband, hoping he’d be open to considering it. He agreed, and they closed on the sale in August and moved in at the beginning of October.
Rachel said her husband has always been her foundation and rock, working with her to make her dreams come true. She said there were a lot of bumps in the road that led to running Le Chateau, but it’s all been worth it to be able to raise their family there.
It’s all about community, connections and memories.
Rachel said she has always had a passion for community, no matter where she’s lived. She said she wants to actively add value to wherever she’s living, especially as she and her husband are raising four children.
That sense of community means that much more to Rachel as she and Mike are raising their kids where they themselves grew up. Rachel said she had a great childhood, and she’s looking forward to raising her kids in the same way she was, just down the street from where she spent her youth. The family lives at the Le Chateau home, with their family quarters on the third floor with a view of Rachel’s childhood home.
Rachel said they want to bring the community together and offer events and experiences for people to build memories.
“The Stormoen family wants you to come in and make memories here,” she said. “If I can use my house to do so, welcome. Come on in.”
‘This house is made for memories.’
Le Chateau builds on the legacy of John Arpin’s home. John Arpin, whose family owned the John Arpin Lumber Company in Arpin, had the house built for his wife, Clarice, in 1889. She named it Le Chateau, and it was one of the first modern homes in the area to have electricity, running water and a telephone at the time.
Throughout the years, the home stood as multiple apartments and was sold multiple times before it was refurbished from 2004 to 2008. When Bill and Faye bought the home, they wanted to honor the history as they opened the bed and breakfast. The Stormoen family wants to continue honoring the history of the home, as well as some of the newer bed and breakfast traditions.
“It didn’t feel right to buy it and shut the doors,” Rachel said.
She said she wanted to continue to give guests and community members what they’ve loved over the past few years, while also finding ways to make their experiences even better. Rachel brought her knowledge from wedding planning to the bed and breakfast, offering it as a venue for intimate weddings, as well as a space for events, luncheons and more. Rachel said she wants to be accessible to the community, too, offering monthly events for the public to enjoy.
“This house is made for memories,” she said.
What can you expect?
One tradition Le Chateau started as the bed and breakfast was its Christmas tree tours. People could take tours through the home and see dozens of Christmas trees decorated in various themes.
It’s a tradition Rachel said will continue. This year, the family set up 67 trees and told stories of the home’s history as they led tours through the home. In the future, Rachel wants to create more experiences, pairing tours with weekly events.
Breakfast is a special event at Le Chateau, as well. Mike runs breakfasts and comes up with a different menu each day. Food is set up on the table family-style, allowing guests to pick whichever foods they want. Rachel said they try to offer something savory, something sweet and something in between during those breakfasts. Mike and Rachel wanted breakfast to feel like a family affair, like going to Grandma’s house for a homemade breakfast.
Beyond the bed and breakfast stays, Le Chateau will host monthly events open to the community, like a Murder Mystery Dinner, Valentine Date Dinner or a Paint and Snack event. Rachel said she’s also planning a Hollywood-themed event with a red carpet and glamor for later this summer. The bed and breakfast partners with Derrie’s Foodworks Catering Co. for some events, as well.
People can find events on Le Chateau’s Facebook page or website, or through the Wisconsin Rapids Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.
For more information, visit themanorwisconsin.org or find Le Chateau Bed & Breakfast/The Manor on Facebook.