NORTH ADAMS — A new, large painting of the city’s lush green mountain views made by artist Eric Forstmann now hangs behind the check-in desk at Hotel Downstreet.
Off of the lobby in another room, Jarvis Rockwell has arranged on shelves an army of toy figurines like dinosaurs, R2-D2, and Snow White.
That’s all part of the recently completed renovations and art-focused rebranding at the city’s largest hotel. Previously a Holiday Inn, new owners purchased it more than a year ago, renamed it and made changes inside the building that they officially unveiled Wednesday afternoon.
“It’s supposed to be affordable, art-driven, stylish, fun and welcoming for everybody,” said Sarah Eustis, CEO of Main Street Hospitality Group, a Stockbridge-based company that bought the hotel in late 2021 with Rhode Island-based Peregrine Group.
“If you’re working on the National Grid crew or you’re a hockey player from Williams or you’re an artist from Mass MoCA, we’re hoping everyone feels good in this hotel,” she said.
Eustis recalled the first time she walked into the hotel before the changes and thought: “Wow, I think we can do better in there.”
Those changes include refreshing the hotel’s 90 rooms, adding three gallery spaces in the main floor and demolishing the single-story annex to the lobby that was not “structurally healthy,” Eustis said. The rooms’ floors were redone and the walls repainted. “We tried to maximize the impact on a smart budget,” she said. She declined to say what the project’s budget was. While undergoing renovation, the hotel remained open.
In future renovations, the hotel hopes to redo bathrooms in the rooms.
When the new owners announced their plans to buy the hotel, they said it would still be “value-based.” In the summer months, a one-bedroom unit is $150 on a weeknight; the rate increases by at least $100 on weekends, according to its online listing.
Kelsey Gardner, the sales manager, has worked at the hotel for nearly a decade, and is excited about its fresh face. “It’s going to be life-changing for us,” she said.
Many of the staffers from hotel’s previous iteration, like Gardner, have stayed, Eustis said.
The reimagined hotel now has three gallery spaces. One is filled with works from Rockwell’s large toy and figurine collection, pieces of which have been on display at Mass MoCA.
Rockwell, 91, whose father was the legendary painter Norman Rockwell, sat in front of a glass shelves filled with figurines he has collected. He was pleased to see them on display. “Can you imagine them lying in a box?” he said. He said he is done amassing figures, which he has done since 1979, but then a friend nearby asks him the last time he bought a figurine, and he admits it was last week.
Another gallery is now home to Eckert Fine Art, which recently moved to the hotel from its space on Mass MoCA’s campus.
“Nothing against Mass MoCA; I loved being there,” gallery owner Jane Coats Eckert said, “but I just thought this was a really nice opportunity to have a little more visibility in the hotel.” Through large windows, the gallery can be seen from the Main Street sidewalk.
Eckert also likes the hotel’s focus on art.
“They put really nice art in the hallways and the rooms,” she said. “It’s nice to be associated with them.”
Parts of the former space remain the same, like its restaurant, 413 Bistro & Taproom, but the new focus on art is intentional. The team aims to create a new energy through art “which again is very much part of the North Adams story,” Eustis told the crowd that gathered in the hotel’s lobby to celebrate the completed renovations on Wednesday.
“We want to do something that pulls the energy of Mass MoCA over and also the energy that’s continuing to emerge on Main Street with new galleries and shops,” she said.
Keith Bona, who owns Berkshire Emporium & Antiques across the street, said while it’s too early to know how the renovated hotel will impact the community, “anything that’s fresh and new is welcome to the downtown.”