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Payne Jailhouse Bed and Breakfast wins third award in two years

January 26, 2018 – Payne Jailhouse Bed and Breakfast won the 2017 Small Business of the Year Award from the Excelsior Springs Chamber of Commerce in December.

The award came as a surprise to owners Mark and Anna Sue Spohn. As the announcement was made live during the Chamber banquet, the speaker began to describe the winner, rather than naming the business outright.

“They said they revived an old property around town, did a lot to add to the beautification of downtown, started a bed and breakfast, and I thought, ‘huh!’ It all started to sound pretty familiar,” Spohn said, laughing.

Anna Sue and Mark Spoen

Anna Sue and Mark Spoen are the owners of the award-winning Payne Jailhouse Bed and Breakfast.

The Small Business of the Year award joins several other awards the Spohns have won in the short time they have been open, including Best of the Northland, a Reader’s Choice award published in the Liberty Tribune, and the 2016-2017 Best Downtown Beautification Project Award.

Although the Payne Jailhouse Bed and Breakfast has only been in operation since 2016, the property itself, located at 426 Concourse Avenue in downtown Excelsior Springs, has long been a historical fixture. Once owned by Bill Payne, who served as the chief of police in Excelsior from 1926 to 1953, the house acted as an overnight jail and so, the owners joke, it has long since been a place where someone could get “a hot and a cot.” They promise their accommodations are nicer than those provided to former prisoners, though.

For the Spohns, the B&B has been both a labor of love, and the fulfilment of a vision. They knew they had to rescue the property, from the moment they first saw it, burnt-out with fixtures that had literally melted from the ceiling, charred walls and streaks of soot.

“And that was at night,” Mark said. “Anna Sue said, ‘Let’s go see it in the daylight,’ and it was even worse.”

But the Spohns saw past the soot and damage to what it could be. Mark, using nothing more than natural aptitude, and some drafting classes he took in the eighth grade, drew up some blueprints that match almost exactly what the property looks like now.

“I had a vision of what would work within the space, and I learned to adapt,” Spohn said.

It wasn’t always easy, but the Spohns also had some help, from Mark’s father, who had terminal cancer. In the last year of his life, Mark and Anna Sue got him an apartment at the Colony Plaza, on the side of the building that overlooked their own property.

“My dad came over one day, and I was frustrated because something wasn’t working the way I had planned, and my father said, ‘Let me tell you something that your grandfather told me when I was young.’ He said, ‘A wise man can change his mind, but a fool never will.’ And that has stuck with me, and so over and over, I would make a change, and I’d hear my dad tell me that,” Spohn said.

As the owner of a bed-and-breakfast, the ability to adapt is a necessary one. But their multiple awards, as well as a wall in their dining area that is literally filled with the handwritten praises of guests who celebrate their warmth and hospitality, it seems clear the Spohns are doing what they are meant to do.

“When we finally decided on this, we prayed about this a lot, but it seems like everything I’ve done in my life points to this one thing. It just felt right,” Spohn said.

By Samantha Kilgore •

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