Amherst Magazine

Staying the Night

By Emily Gold Boutilier

In 1926, Bing Crosby cut his first record, Americans began to get their kicks on U.S. Route 66, and the future Queen Elizabeth II was born. At Amherst, the year marked, among other things, the opening of the Lord Jeffery Inn.

Intended to look like a historic Neo-Georgian Colonial, the Jeff quickly became a popular sleeping and dining place on the Amherst town common. But today, the building not only feels historic; it also feels out-of-date.

That’s why the college is about to undertake what Jim Brassord, director of facilities and associate treasurer for campus services, calls a “long-overdue upgrade,” the hotel’s first-ever major renovation and expansion. The project will retain the Jeff’s “nostalgic country charm,” Brassord says, while improving its guest rooms and public spaces.

The Jeff is scheduled to close in November, when construction will begin, and to reopen 16 to 18 months later. According to preliminary estimates, the project will cost about $30 million.

The construction project will expand the hotel down Spring Street. The larger space will have 70 guest rooms, including 20 suites (now, there are 48 guest rooms, including eight suites). Guest rooms will have well appointed bathrooms and new furniture.

Charles Longsworth ’51, chair emeritus of the Amherst Board of Trustees and former president of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, chairs the committee in charge of the renovation. Brassord is on the committee, as are Betsy Cannon Smith ’84, executive director of alumni and parent programs; Peter Shea, the college’s treasurer; and Bill Vickery ’57, a consultant to the college.

Plans call for solar panels that will provide hot water and/or electricity. A new indoor banquet and conference area will seat up to 200 people. The space that is now the Windowed Hearth restaurant will be restored as a sitting room. The Jeff’s other restaurant, Boltwood’s Tavern, will be replaced with a fine dining restaurant.

In conceiving the project, the committee worked closely with the town’s historic commission. The renovated Jeff “will look and feel as if it’s a historic structure,” Brassord says, just as it did in 1926. “Now,” he says, “we’ll evoke the 1920s version of a Neo-Georgian Colonial.”