By: Carrie Leskowitz

I have long loved the jewelry of designer Renee Lewis.  I think she was the originator of the shake necklaces.  You’ve seen the beautiful locket like charms with teeny, tiny diamonds in them.  High end stores like Barney’s and Bergdorf’s sell her things.  She said of imitators of late, “Nobody was doing this back in the 70’s and 80’s.”  Her prices are steep, but now I know what she has been doing with the fruits of her labors… renovating an Inn, The Courthouse Inn and Restaurant in Lisbon, Ohio, near Renee’s hometown.

The original building dating back to1802 was deeded and signed by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.  Three presidents have stayed there, one being Lincoln.  Lewis and Clarke stopped there along their expedition.  Needless to say, this little brick building has had a storied past.  Renee had hoped if she restored the exterior of this wonderful historical building it would motivate others to come forward and help revitalize it as well as the town.  That did not happen, unfortunately.  So 11 years later and with Renee’s life savings, she singlehandedly saved this old beauty from the wrecking ball.
“I want to offer people something they’ve never seen, food they’ve never tasted,” says owner Renee (pronounced Rennie) Lewis. “It’s world-class. I want people to have a world-class experience in Lisbon, Ohio.”
Renee described the love of the creative process.  Treating this much like she does designing a fine piece of jewelry, no detail was overlooked. The copper bar is a perfect example of her striving to think outside the box and push local craftspeople beyond what they thought possible.
Renee has been a lifelong vegetarian, and with few options in the area, she knew this was her mission.  People come from far and wide because the inn serves an under served segment of the population in these parts.  Each of the four bedrooms in the inn has handmade mattresses, European linens, original artwork and a variety of antiques.
More faceted crystals than you can count are used throughout, including a portion of the restaurant’s ceiling.
The rooms are quirky, unique and a little sparkly.  She is a jewelry designer after all!  The artistic flow was important to Lewis.  The same attention to detail was paid outside.  Solid jade boulders from the bottom of China’s Yangtze River take pride of place in the center of the square.  They had to be dredged, flown to New York, then shipped to Ohio, cut, polished and put in place.  When asked why she went to so much trouble Renee said matter of factly, “They’re fabulous!”
Copper is a material used throughout.  Boulders, pavers, color and a little imagination round out this magical place with its big history.
If you restore something beautiful people will come, so if you’re ever in Ohio….
See full blog post.
ph: The Courthouse Inn and Restaurant, The Youngstown Business Journal.