LEE >> A young Pittsfield couple has bought the historic Inn at Laurel Lake and plans to keep it open year-round.
Maggie Barry and Cody Gavin recently purchased the lakeshore bed and breakfast for $585,000 from TD Bank, which held the mortgage on the property from the previous owners.
Barry, 27 and Gavin, 23, have already started cleaning up the property and plan to invest another $500,000 to renovate and fully furnish the interior of the 19-room inn. They expect to complete the work — mostly cosmetic, no structural changes — in time to open next winter.
"We want to do it right the first time," Gavin said. "We want to give people an eye-opening experience."
The lodging entrepreneurs look forward to becoming part of local business community.
"We're excited about being in Lee as there is a lot going on downtown," Barry said. "Everybody has been so welcoming."
The new owners have a hospitality background, albeit in local restaurants; Barry managed Mazzeo's Ristorante for five years, Gavin helped run Mazcot's Sports Bar & Grill for two years. Both have since left those positions.
They were among several suitors who sought out the inn through MacCaro Real Estate, according to owner Anthony Caropreso.
"We had back-up offers and after the "sale pending" sign went up, we still had inquiries right up to the closing [on May 1]," he said.
Caropreso noted the historic three-story building and two-acre site was originally listed at $689,000. Currently for tax purposes, the Lee Board of Assessors values the entire site at $966,800.
Barry and Gavin are the fifth owners of The Inn at Laurel Lake since it was built by the Boardman family at the turn of the 19th century.
Known as Laurel Lake House when it opened in 1900, the inn reached its heyday after World War II when it attracted music lovers attending Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
TD Bank took over the inn from Thomas Fusco and Tara Viola after the financial institution failed last fall to sell it at an open auction. The couple originally listed the property for sale for just less than $1 million in November 2013, more than a year after their initial court case in which they were accused of offering sex for sale at the inn. Their case is spending in Southern Berkshire District Court.
George Boardman began construction on the lodging house on land his father bought in 1881 that was associated with a block ice business next door, what is now the Cork 'N Hearth Restaurant, according to local archives at the Lee Library.
Upon Boardman's death in 1930, his relatives maintained control of the inn until Arthur Davis purchased it in 1944, only to sell it three years later to Bernard Morris, a native of Manchester, England.
Morris, with help from his wife, ran the inn for nearly 50 years, expanding the first floor, installing a clay surface tennis court and removing many original exterior features of the Queen Anne-style architecture, characteristic of several private homes that still exist along Laurel Street (Route 20).
Under Morris' management, the inn drew plenty of summer visitors, many to hear BSO concerts and enjoy the lake.
In 1996, Morris sold the inn to Fusco, who added a deck that overlooks the private beach and rescinded the "no children" policy Morris had instituted when he bought the place.
Barry and Gavin plan some historic restorations and look to take advantage of its location; right off Route 20 but secluded enough to attract visitors and special events, such as weddings.
The rear of the property overlooks the entire Laurel Lake, providing lodgers with breathtaking views year-round.
"[Maggie and I] sat on the rocks one day and stayed there for a good half-hour," Gavin said.
Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233.