Free Hotel


Norfolk Villa, Prospect Street, In Granville

“When Ellen White and her traveling companions returned to Granville, it was to a different house. Per Ardua, the brick building they had moved into in late March on coming to New South Wales, was at the foot of a hill. It had low, rather small windows, and Ellen White became less pleased with it. On looking around in June, as winter came on, they found a large house, Norfolk Villa, on the top of a nearby hill in a neighborhood known as Harris Park. W. C. White described it as high, light, and dry, and planned more conveniently than where they had been living. It had ten rooms and rented for the same rate as the previous property, $5.00 a week. “It is ... real homelike,” he said, with a “big dining room,” which was a real comfort, for the whole family could gather” (4 WCW, pp. 459, 489).

Ellen White’s tent was pitched as an extra bedroom for the many visitors who came and went (Letter 30a, 1894). The day after they were settled in the new home, July 9, Ellen White wrote to Edson:

We are now in our new home. The house is the best we have ever lived in. It is two-story. I have the room above the parlor. Both parlor and chamber have large bay windows, and the scenery is very fine. Everything is nice and pleasant here, and it is more healthful....

I shall not write many letters now, but I shall endeavor to put all my time and powers in writing on the life of Christ. I have written very little on this book, and unless I do cut off and restrain my writing so largely for the papers, and letter writing, I shall never have strength to write the life of Christ.—Letter 133, 1894.

Running a Free Hotel

With the interest developing at Cooranbong, the White home was a sort of stopping-off place, rather like a free hotel, a situation to which they tried hard to adjust.

She wrote of the heavy burden of entertaining. As preparations were being made to send off Jimmy Gregory and Mr. Collins with the horse and cart to Cooranbong, Ellen White wrote to Willie:

We are supplying them with provisions for a three-day journey. We are expected to entertain all the saints who come and go, to shelter and feed all the horses, to provide provisions for all who go out, and to lunch all who come in.

This would be all very well if it were only an occasional thing, but when it is continual, it is a great wear upon the housekeeper and upon those who do the work. They are continually tired and cannot get rested, and besides this, our purse will not always hold out so that we can keep a free hotel.

She asked:

But what can we do? We do not wish to say No, and yet the work of entertaining all who come is no light matter. Few understand or appreciate how taxing it can be; but if this is our way to help, we will do it cheerfully, and say Amen.

But it is essential that we donate large sums of money to the work and that we lead out in benevolent enterprises.... Is it our duty also to keep a free hotel, and to carry these other burdens? May the Lord give us His wisdom and His blessing, is our most earnest prayer.—Letter 85, 1894.

Within a few days Ellen White caught herself. She felt remorse and self-condemnation for complaining. Repenting, she bravely wrote:

“I begrudge nothing in the line of food or anything to make guests comfortable, and should there be a change made in the matter of entertaining, I should certainly feel the loss and regret it so much. So I lay that burden down as wholly unnecessary, and will entertain the children of God whenever it seems to be necessary.... I would not have it otherwise in entertaining, if I could. The Lord has made us stewards of His grace and of His blessings in temporal things, and while writing to Elder Loughborough a letter on this subject, my mind cleared wonderfully on these matters. No! I want not to hoard anything, and, God helping me, those who have embraced the truth and love God and keep His commandments shall not go hungry for food or naked for clothing if I know it.”

—Letter 135, 1894.

4BIO 156-157