About the Innkeepers
Beginning in Chicago, where Linda’s father owned a restaurant, Jeff and Linda originally thought to open a restaurant of their own. But their experience in the business and their first-hand knowledge of the hassles of owning a restaurant deterred them. But the two were frequent guests of bed and breakfasts, and they saw the opportunity to put their restaurant experience to work. It was the best of both worlds; the Leonis have been operating Cambridge House now for fifteen years.
“I don’t know another job where your basic responsibility is to create an atmosphere where people come to enjoy themselves and relax, and 99-percent of those are in a good mood anyway because they’re getting away from their normal life. The payoff for us is that these people really enjoy it,” ~ Jeff Leoni
History of the Inn
Doc Bilstad came to Cambridge in the years after World War One, buying this corner home close to the school he so could watch from his back door as his three girls walked into schoolhouse each day. Then he would stride back through the house, unlock the front door that now welcomes Cambridge House guests, and declare his doctoring practice as open for the day. Doc lived upstairs, in the part of the home that now is where folks relax in the North, South and East rooms. Downstairs people waited in the front room for their turn to see the kindly and wise doctor in his adjoining large office. The wisdom he shared has become part of Cambridge's tradition, where people continue to live in the comfort only possible in a small home town. Guests of Cambridge House now come to 123 East Main Street for the relaxation that is so important to a healthy lifestyle and sit in what was Doc's office to discuss wonderful ideas while enjoying gourmet breakfasts prepared by Jeff. (Linda helps)
Locals have to have been born in the early 1940's or before to remember coming with their parents to see Doc Bilstad. In addition to serving the people of Cambridge and area, Doc researched and wrote papers for the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine. When invited to the campus, he explained he preferred to be the local doctor in the village of Cambridge.
Doctor Bilstad's three daughters all went on to singular professional careers, but none took up the mantle of Doc's MD. Esther went on to be a distinguished pilot, Gwendolyn earned a Masters in Social Work (MSW) and worked in Chicago, and Nellie became the family's Professor.
While living here, Doc likely met the even older doctor who lived across Lawn street, who 'worked the Cambridge folks' health' before Bilstad's tenure. That old doctor's home and carriage house are still standing across the street, owned now by a mere youngsters (compared to the two doctors, at least). Harriet Gerstner graduated in 1926 from the same school that the Bilstad girls did, just behind Cambridge House. Harriet and her husband G.W. bought that old Doctor's home in 1942. Don't ask the price or the monthly payments.