Windsor inn reopens following renovations
WINDSOR — After major renovation work over the past six months, the former 18-bedroom private home of Sen. Maxwell Evarts is up and running as the Windsor Mansion Inn with several new additions — and a few treasures brought back to life.
The renovations, planned for approximately $600,000, turned into a project of more than $1 million, owner and Steward of the Inn Kenneth Lucci said on Monday, Aug. 29.
“I told my investors, ‘It was either 100 little $1,000 projects, or 1,000 little $100 projects!’” said Lucci, who was at the inn on Monday afternoon with Bentley, the “mansion dog” who spends his time between the Windsor Mansion Inn and the Sumner Mansion Inn, which Lucci also owns.
“The guests absolutely love him,” Lucci said.
The majority of the new work on his ”master list” is now complete, he said. The home, which has hosted presidents and dignitaries since it was built in 1902, originally began operating in 1941 as an inn. Lucci purchased it in January, and opened it to the public again in June. He already has several weddings booked this summer.
One of several surprises along the way was the discovery of pieces of art, including two neoclassic urns found tucked away in the dirt down in the basement. With the help of his contractor, he restored both urns, which now decorate a mantel over a main fireplace.
He also found an 1885 etching by artist Stephen Parrish, father of Maxwell Parrish, in the coal bin in the basement, he said. It has been professionally cleaned, and is valued at $1,500, he said.
A candelabra lamp was another surprise find, and now that it has been restored, decorates a piano in one of the rooms off the main hall.
Improvements over the past several months include the renovation of the main fireplace in the large front common room.
“The fireplace was terrible. It had nine coats of paint on it, and no wood paneling,” he said.
Lucci added wood paneling, detailed molding, and bluestone to the fireplace. He also revamped the Presidential Study, which serves as a daytime common room below the Presidential Suites, by adding fine art and a collection of hand-picked, rare books including first editions by presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Calvin Coolidge, who stayed at the homestead in 1928 and 1912, respectively.
His sister Brenda Bradley of West Newbury, Massachusetts, was the designer for the inn, researching and using colors and design true to the historic time period of the Colonial Revival House from the 1876-1920s era, he said.
“This is technically a ‘guilded age’ mansion,” Lucci explained, from the era when there were no taxes on building large, ornate homes. It would be much more difficult now to afford building an 18-room house, after taxes, he said.
The renovation plans in place by Lucci and his small team of investors hit a few surprises along the way, such as finding about four tons of cement board in the ceiling, which had to be completely removed. The upside was that as a result, they insulated the entire first floor, he said.
“We just did more than we expected,” he said. “We discovered some things not done correctly.”
He also built a set of granite steps between the front green space, where weddings often take place, and the upper patio in front of the mansion so bridal parties and guests can more easily go between the two, or use the steps as an entrance for a wedding.
He also did more work on the kitchen than he had planned, he said. The plumbing, electrical system, heating system and air conditioning are also all new.
Lucci said he renamed the inn for its location in Windsor, where it overlooks the hills of Cornish.
Lucci’s plans for the next few months include several more small projects and the completion of a new pub in which he will replace a plywood bar built by television personality Gordon Ramsay during an edition of the reality show “Hotel Hell” several years ago, and finishing a new bathroom thats meet requirements for the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Lucci, with the help of a full-time contractor, is also creating a new set of pet-friendly suites with exterior entrances, and family-size, three-room suites in the space that used to be the innkeepers’ living quarters. He also said he is a fan of the artist Augustus Saint-Gaudens, and published a glossy brochure that encourages guests to visit the Saint-Gaudens estate and national park, a five-minute drive from the inn.
Work is expected to continue through the winter on small projects, he said, including the renovation of three new suites.