New inn could replace burned icon

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"One of the plans that we're floating around is rebuilding a smaller version of the inn and perhaps going green -- building a green inn," said Robert Johnson, who co-owns the inn with his wife, Marie.

"But I think I need to get through the cleanup process and a little bit more down the road with the insurance company and whatnot before we can figure out how to rebuild, or what to rebuild," he said.

However, Johnson acknowledged that present-day construction codes would preclude rebuilding an exact replica of the large, three-story inn on the site, which is located next to a brook on Old Sheffield Road in the center of South Egremont.

"It's been a couple of weeks now [since the fire] and, you know, we're just dealing with the cleanup process and everything else, so we've made no definitive plans," Johnson said.

Investigators continue to probe the five-alarm blaze, according to a spokeswoman for Massachusetts Fire Marshal Stephen C. Coan.

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Officials have yet to publicly identify what sparked the fire, which tore through the historic inn whose origins date back to 1780.

Francis Haere, an Irishman who fought in the American Revolution, built a tavern on the old Albany-Hartford Turnpike. By 1857, the tavern had expanded into a summer hotel that eventually became the landmark South County inn and restaurant.

Townspeople have generally expressed support for the Connecticut couple, who were not at the inn when it burned down.

"A lot of people have called and offered us to sell us their inns or restaurants, so the community, by in large, has been very supportive," Johnson said.

To reach Conor Berry: cberry@berkshireeagle.com; (413) 496-6249.


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