Thursday June 7, 2012

LENOX -- The four-acre Cornell Inn property at 203 Main St. includes three houses with 28 rooms for guests, as well as innkeeper's quarters.

The 10-room MacDonald House -- oldest of the buildings at the site -- was built in 1777 as a private residence and adjoins a garden and waterfall. It retains original corner beams and floorboards and was owned by multiple generations of the family, including state Rep. Edward MacDonald during the 1870s. Later, his two daughters resided there.

The 10-room Main House, a Victorian completed around 1880, was home for the Cornell Family.

The Carriage House, built in 1889, offers a pair of loft suites and six other rooms, but is structurally challenged, according to former innkeeper Eiran Gazit and current manager Lance Fyfe.

Photos provided to prospective bidders illustrate the building's precarious underpinnings with temporary supports.

A vintage photo hangs on the wall near the inn's front desk, showing the property being operated as Twin Maples, apparently as a guest house, about 100 years ago.

The recent B&B operation began in 1986 and the property was renovated in 2006. In 2008, when it was put on the market by Century 21 Franklin Street for $3.9 million, it had a year-round occupancy rate of about 30 percent and gross revenues exceeding $650,000, and included a pub and restaurant for guests only.

A year later, offered at $3,495,000, the occupancy rate was put at 25 percent with gross revenue down to $560,000.


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A private appraisal had valued it at $4,185,000 in 2008.

After Billie and Doug McLaughlin abruptly closed it in September 2009, causing at least 30 guests who showed up to find locked doors and lights off, the inn reopened three months later with tourism consultant Eiran Gazit as innkeeper as efforts to sell it continued. After ownership was transferred to the German bank, Gazit departed; he acquired the Gateways Inn on Walker Street last December for $2.5 million.

-- Clarence Fanto