The Comeback Inn
When life throws a curve ball, there is often a silver lining. As of April 1st, everyone involved with the renovations of the old inn can now focus on silver linings, as The Deerfield Inn and Champney’s Restaurant and Tavern are officially open for business and eager to accept your reservations.
In last spring’s update for The Link, Jane Howard, who manages The Deerfield Inn with her husband, Karl Sabo, plainly stated, “we are starting from scratch.” In August 2011, Hurricane Irene and its severe rains caused the Deerfield River to overflow, flooding the campus and the Deerfield Inn. Six feet of silt filled the basement and first floor rooms; the inn has been closed since then. Structural damage to the old inn was extensive, many pieces of furniture had to be thrown out and progress was hampered by “surprises and discoveries” when workers reached the original foundation dating back to 1884.
But, that is now all in the past and the staff at The Inn is looking forward to welcoming Deerfield Academy parents, “old” and new, to their beautifully renovated spaces. The Inn staff chose April 1st, with all its irony, for the public re-opening for Champney’s. For the past several weeks, the restaurant has hosted several “test nights” to give the kitchen and its wait staff trial run events to showcase the new menu, local beer offerings and extensive wine list. In addition to creating opportunities for feedback on the menu and customer service experience, these evenings created an opportunity for The Deerfield Inn to thank everyone in the community for their support during the past 18 months. The word on Main Street is that these evenings have been a rousing success. The “talented executive and sous chef and their A team of cooks” are offering an eclectic cuisine that showcases local produce. Two bartenders are waiting behind the beautiful new mahogany bar with its 12 taps and 18 bar stools for your order. There is an enormous sense of pride, empowerment and excitement for everyone who has been involved in this undertaking. In all of this, the staff at The Deerfield Inn have maintained their sense of humor, as Jane recently said that it only took “368 days to receive our certificate of occupancy.”
If you have missed eating at Champney’s this past year, you will be amazed when you see how the public spaces in the first floor of the Main Inn have changed. If you have never been able to sit at the bar, sip a glass of wine in a wing chair by the fire, or “grill” your child over dinner at the restaurant, you can do so today. Call Champney’s at 413-772-3087 or visit the new website today to see photos or make your reservations. They are open noon to 9 pm, seven days a week. You will be as wowed as a friend recently was when she peeked in and saw the difference between Champney’s then and Champney’s now. Jane said, “this bucked me up no end.”
As of today, the majority of the work in the Main Inn has concluded and the housekeeping and Inn staffs are completing the last finishing touches to each individual room and some of the public spaces. Carpets have been professionally cleaned, wallpaper has been repaired or replaced and guests will be able to enjoy all the new or restored furniture and antiques throughout the inn. At times it seemed almost impossible to believe they could get it all back together again, but a lot of determination and even more hard work prevailed. There will be a total of 24 rooms available in the Main Inn and Carriage House within the next two weeks (18 are available as of today), so please call 413-774-5587 to make your reservations. Jane, Marcie, Debbie and Helen are eager to welcome you back to the Deerfield Inn this spring. The inn’s new website will be up by the end of this month.
The Deerfield Inn has a wonderful and unique role on Main Street and in town. With the inn’s shuttering, tourism and attendance at many of the historic landmarks houses on Main Street has declined. As Phillip Zea, President of Historic Deerfield recently said, “Historic Deerfield has been on hold financially for the past 18 months.” It has not been the same without a functioning inn and it has been difficult to raise money without the main attraction. Phil would never have wished for the devastation to the local community and farmers and economy for the past 18 months, but the silver lining is a new and improved inn that is beckoning visitors back to town. Phil is now very confident that Historic Deerfield attendance will come back with The Inn’s reopening this spring and with that, its financial stability. If you have not visited the Asa Stebbins house, built in 1799 in the Federal Style, featuring neoclassical furnishings, you should.
Phil encourages all of us to explore the unique history of Deerfield on Main Street that dates back over 350 years. Membership for Historic Deerfield is $40 for an individual and $60 for a family (see historic-deerfield.org for details and visiting hours for houses and museums in town). After your tour, you can stop by the Inn for quick refreshment at the bar, have dinner with a loved one, and, if you call now, a room at The Inn.
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