LENOX — The Kemble Inn, a historic Gilded Age mansion, currently a high-end bed-and-breakfast, is slated for a public auction this month, in response to a foreclosure notice from the mortgage holder.
The mortgage was transferred from Adams Community Bank to MA Opportunity Investment LLC on April 13, which ran a legal notice recently, listing the auction to satisfy a “breach” of the mortgage’s conditions.
The owner of the 3-acre property is Scott Shortt through his company, Frederick LLC.
Auctioneer Aaron Posnik, of West Springfield, advertises the property as a nine-suite inn with about 20 parking spaces, including nearly 12,000 square feet of living space on three floors, with a private bathroom for each guest suite, a 22-seat dining room and a potential for four additional bedrooms.
The auction is scheduled for 1 p.m. June 30 on the premises at 2 Kemble St. Occasionally, auctions are canceled if the owner is able to satisfy the terms of the mortgage.
A buyer is required to deposit $100,000 in cash or certified funds, with other terms to be announced at the time of the sale. No minimum bid is listed.
Shortt, who purchased the property in 2010 for $1.6 million, offered it for sale a year ago for $4.6 million. The price reflected extensive, top-to-bottom renovations costing $2.7 million, he stated.
Shortt declined comment last week on the planned auction.
The inn was built in 1881 as a seasonal home for Frederick Frelinghuysen, who had been a U.S. senator and then served as secretary of state under President Chester A. Arthur. It was described last year by Sotheby’s International Realty for use either as a modern inn or a private home, but the listing no longer is active.
The Colonial Revival mansion, totaling 15,000 square feet, including the walkout basement level, is in a residential zone adjacent to the downtown village's business district.
The guest suites include fireplaces, jetted tubs and steam showers. Guests arrive through an entry hall that adjoins a winding staircase with a crystal chandelier.
There is an upscale dining room now serving guests only, a green room bar added during the renovation, a media/parlor room and smaller gathering areas. A wraparound rear veranda overlooks a scenic mountain vista.
Shortt's multiyear restoration included updates such as soundproofing, replacements of all systems, major additions, cosmetic improvements and reproductions of 88 out of the home's original 113 windows.
Last year, he told The Eagle: “For me, owning a small boutique hotel was a long-held dream. Having fulfilled this desire over the past 10 years, it's time for a new adventure."
"I didn't set out on a pure historic restoration," he added, "but you never ‘own’ a building with so much history; you're the steward of it, and I am proud of my time with this Gilded Age cottage."
Shortt cited "the improvements, structural and otherwise, that have prepared this storied property for another 100-plus years of enjoyment, either reimagining it as an inn, or returning it to a private residence."
In a 2018 Eagle profile, Shortt, who previously studied at New York's French Culinary Institute and worked at a Toronto catering company, said that food and drink have been a central focus of the inn under his ownership. For a time, the Table Six restaurant and adjacent bar were open to the general public, not only guests.
Describing an intensive, five-year renovation, he pointed out that he spent some of that time sleeping on the floors of the storage room and the basement.
"It's taken a long time," he said of the inn's makeover. "This is a 12,000-square-foot, Gilded Age historic mansion. We've renovated 9,000 square feet. So, it's been a big project, but it's ready for people to really come and enjoy it, and it's ready for me to enjoy it as well. I'm happy to kind of have that behind me."
In 2019, along with other innkeepers, Shortt urged the town to pursue a more aggressive marketing campaign to promote Lenox as a destination, especially outside the summer season. He also advocated for a level playing field for inns to compete with online short-term rental platforms like Airbnb and VRBO.
He said that Lenox tourism had been growing at one-third the statewide level during the previous five years and that the occupancy rate had remained flat at his inn.
Shortt pointed to a Lenox Chamber of Commerce survey of 10 inns released in April 2019 that put overall year-round room occupancy for the group at 30 percent, with 60 percent of rooms filled in July and August, 35 percent in the spring and autumn shoulder seasons, and 14 percent from November through April.