Share this article

print logo

A true sense of community

What it's like:

A hamlet on the border of Eden and North Collins, New Oregon is located in a picturesque rural valley in Buffalo's Southtowns. Originally home to dairy farms, the area began as a largely German community. Just minutes from Hamburg, Boston and Eden, its proximity to Route 219 also allows its residents quick access to Buffalo and Springville.

What makes it unique:

Though it's a rural community, it's close-knit and friendly. Many of the families who live there have been there a long time, and residents say people tend to stay.

Places to go:

The Marienthal Inn. Several shops and stores in nearby Eden, Hamburg and North Collins, including the Three Star Restaurant in North Collins, O'Brien's Pub and Steak House in Eden and Robbins Nest Country Market in North Collins.

A person you should know:

Before opening the Marienthal Inn with her husband, Vincent, lifelong Eden resident Louise Vacco worked as a television commercial producer. An artist, she was known for a time as the "mailbox lady" for the thousands of painted mailboxes she painted and sold, and she is also a photographer. In addition, she has a business background and at one time worked as assistant to the president of Blue Shield.

In 2007, Vacco and her husband purchased the former St. Mary's Immaculate Conception Church on Langford Road, turning it into an artisan bed and breakfast. Located on the grounds of the 1858 church, the property consists of three buildings: the former rectory, which serves as a traditional B&B; the former convent, which is generally used for groups or families; and the church itself, which is being renovated.

>Q: How did the inn get its name?

A: This was a German community. The name was chosen because it translated into "The Valley of Mary" or "the vale of Mary."

>Q: When and how did you become an innkeeper?

A: We heard the church property was up for sale. Finally it dawned on us that we could do it. The process took on a life of its own and took over my life. It opened Valentine's Day weekend 2007, and it's been a whirlwind.

>Q: How are the plans for the church renovation going?

A: Preserving its beauty and integrity is paramount. It will stay intact with minimal alterations to enable us to use as a gallery/museum as well as a banquet facility for the community. Our intention is to provide an environment for reflection and growth. Our motto is peace, comfort and inspiration.

The church was always a community center, and we're actually bringing it back to being a community center. I've always experienced inspiration and serenity at the former St. Mary's and would like others to benefit from these surroundings.