Richard Ceriello '73 
Hosts Florida Travelers with Love of Nostalgia

Image of Joanne Ryan

Richard Ceriello’ 73 knew he wanted something exciting to fill his post-retirement life. Although opening a bed and breakfast was not something he always wanted to do, the Mercy College alumnus thinks he may have found the perfect fit. One problem: taking a few days off.

For the first time since opening his “1910 General Store” in 2016 in Jacksonville Florida he is taking that time off for his 50th class reunion in June. It’s an adventure he is looking forward to that will briefly divert from his more than 28-year adventure turning a former general store once in disrepair into a fashionable spot for Florida tourists to turn in for the night.

 Ceriello initially purchased the property and rented it as a duplex, but over the past seven years has slowly transformed and renovated it into the cozy and stylish lodging spot it is today. Everything from the foundation to the roof needed work, but he was up to the challenge. “Jacksonville was like many other cities prone to urban development and the belief that you tear down the old and put in the new.”  This is the type of philosophy Ceriello said that motivates many people like himself to try to preserve history around their cities. This is exactly what led him to the mission that has become his second career.

 After retiring as a speech pathologist, the project truly became a labor of love. Ceriello said that although there was no class at Mercy that specifically instructed him how to take on such a lofty project, he feels his education taught him the kind of foundational skills to work step by step toward success on any plan. “Mercy taught me discipline. It taught me how to accomplish a goal. I can’t say enough good about what Mercy College gave me.”

Ceriello's B&B, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has exciting ties to the history of popular music and movie culture. Ceriello says according to its former owners as well as other long time neighbors, musical icons like Molly Hatchet, the Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd all practiced after hours within the store.  More recently the independent children's short film, "Ortega River Rats" was filmed there.

As a B&B proprietor who focuses a lot of his business on nostalgia, Ceriello is quick to admit that he is ready to take his own trip back down memory lane. Having last seen the Dobbs Ferry campus five decades ago, he is anxious to not only see the changes, but what remains fondly stamped in his memory. Originally from Long Island, returning north in any case is a fun prospect after five decades as a Floridian.  “This will be my first trip out of the area since getting this place off the ground,” said Ceriello. He says he’ll be returning to Dobbs Ferry to revisit a time in his life that he says was both “memorable and magical”.