Massachusetts Historical Commission - 2015 Preservation Award Winners
Photo of Lord Jeffery Inn • Amherst

Lord Jeffery Inn • Amherst

Rehabilitation & Restoration

A cherished landmark of Amherst College and the town for more than 80 years, the Lord Jeffery Inn, constructed in 1926, faces Amherst Common. The Boston architectural firm of Putnam and Cox designed the building in the Colonial Revival Style. Lord Jeffery Inn, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Amherst Central Business District, is also significant as a favored destination for prominent American poet Robert Frost, who frequented as a guest from 1949 to 1963. The whitewashed-brick inn features an array of porches, enclosed galleries, iron balconies, side gables, dormer windows, and chimneys, and integrates wood detailing around windows, porches, and doors. Although the inn has been part of Amherst's town and higher education communities since its construction, it struggled financially through the later 20th century, culminating in the building's closure in 2008 for rehabilitation. At the time, the college planned to demolish the east wing and build a large addition, while updating the remaining historic building with modern amenities. Due to the economic downturn, however, restoration was delayed and the building sat vacant for more than a year before construction began. This resulted in revised plans for the inn's rehabilitation, which ultimately retained the original east wing, fully renovated the entire existing facility, and created a small addition in the former garden space at the rear. The project utilized federal historic rehabilitation tax credits. Ultimately, the inn's historic count of 49 guestrooms remained unchanged.

The $14.7-million rehabilitation and restoration project was completed in 2012. Work included thorough cleaning and repair of the brick fašade, restoration of historic windows and outdoor seating areas, and repairs to the slate roof and its copper flashing, gutters, and downspouts. The team researched historic photographs, postcards, magazine articles, and advertisements to ensure the building's careful restoration. This research led to the restoration of the exterior brick's original lime-whitewash finish. The entire building envelope was restored, as was original exterior wood trim. All historic interior finishes were retained and restored, including the wood floors and trim and the plaster walls and ceilings. The original greenhouse dining room was also restored, and new HVAC, electrical, plumbing, and fire systems were installed throughout the building. The unobtrusive rear addition allowed for a new ballroom, a roof terrace with an outdoor fireplace, a fitness center, and a restaurant. The project also improved accessibility with a new elevator. The rehabilitation's numerous environmentally friendly design features resulted in LEED Silver certification. The rehabilitation and restoration of the Lord Jeffery Inn has returned a local landmark to its former glory and transformed it into a 5-star destination, ensuring its continued importance to the town and its educational institutions into the future.

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