Thursday May 17, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- After six years of serving guests of their bed-and-breakfast on South Street, the McGovern family has put the White Horse Inn up for sale.

According to co-owner John McGovern, a retiree from GE Plastics, the family hopes to sell the inn by the summer season of 2013.

It's not that business is bad, but with their son and his family relocating to Houston, there isn't enough manpower to keep the eight-room inn operating.

He said that if the inn hasn't sold by the 2013 tourist season, they'll have to evaluate their options, among which is closing the inn. The asking price is $669,000.

The White Horse Inn is the last operating bed-and-breakfast in Pittsfield, McGovern said.

Late last year, the only other bed-and-breakfast in town -- the Victorian-era Thaddeus Clapp House -- abruptly closed. It, too, is up for sale.

Built in 1906, the White Horse has a long history as a bed-and-breakfast, having served as one since the 1950s, before the McGovern clan came along, he said.

He and his wife, Gina, bought the house in 2006 for nearly $500,000 and invested another $200,000 in renovating the structure. They hired their son, Gary, as the innkeeper; their other son, Neil, a licensed general contractor, conducted the renovations.

"It was a good family project," McGovern said.

It was also a good financial project, with a growing list of reservations and an operating profit, McGovern noted.


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"We are finding that more people are coming to Pittsfield as a destination and not just a stopover while they visit Lenox, Stockbridge or Williamstown," he added.

Along with serving roughly 1,000 customers every year, Gary McGovern was able to get married and have a son while living there.

"We ended up with Gary meeting a wonderful girl and having a wonderful son, Brady, who is now 4 years old," McGovern said. "So overall, it has been a rich and rewarding life experience for us."

Gary's wife recently completed her master's and landed a good job in Houston, where the young family now resides, according to John McGovern. Gary will return this summer to help keep the operation running through the 2012 tourist season, then will return to Houston to seek work in the hospitality industry.

But without Gary's help, running the inn during the tourist season would not be practical.

"The summer would be unmanageable without all hands on deck," McGovern said.

Meanwhile, John, 65, and Gina, 63, have bought a condo in Florida, with plans to move there once the inn has sold.

"We're hoping to find someone seeking something different to do with their lives, kind of like what we did," McGovern said. "The lifestyle is wonderful, and I love the people part of it."

During the summer, the White Horse charges $240 per night for a king room, and $220 for a queen room. Off-season prices are $125 and $110.

"We can keep it going through next winter without too much trouble, but by next summer, worse comes to worse, we might have to close it down," McGovern said. "We can't keep doing this forever."

The loss or the potential loss of bed-and-breakfasts in Pittsfield should have little effect on the tourism industry, according to Lauri Klefos, president and CEO of the Berkshire Visitors Bureau.

She noted that there are still plenty of B&Bs and other types of hospitality offerings throughout much of Berkshire County, many of them within a few minutes of Pittsfield.

To reach Scott Stafford:
sstafford@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6241.
On Twitter: @BE_SStafford