Text by Emily Gold Boutilier
Photos by Samuel Masinter '04
When Amherst magazine photographer Samuel Masinter ’04 toured the vacant Lord Jeffery Inn, he discovered remnants of the bustling place that it used to be: a high chair waiting patiently in the lobby, a pair of shoes abandoned on a dust-covered desk, fancy toothpicks in the kitchen. In the maintenance office he found a dried wedding bouquet and a heart-shaped candy tin—presumably a wedding favor. Lamps congregated in the dining room beside their disembodied shades.
The photographs on these pages were taken on Dec. 18, 2009, months before the construction company Standard Builders began the renovation work in earnest. The $14 million project, now under way, is the most extensive rehab of the Jeff (which is owned by an affiliate of Amherst College) since its opening in 1926. The work includes an upgrade of internal systems, improvements to the 49 guest rooms and public areas and the creation of a new restaurant and ballroom. Geothermal wells will provide environmentally friendly heating and cooling. The design plans maintain the building’s exterior charm.
Tom Davies, Amherst’s director of design and construction, says it was “a little sad” to walk through the empty hotel before the work began: “The lights were off, it was dusty, waiting for its new life to start.” After the hotel closed, its alarms would periodically sound, and at first, Davies couldn’t figure out why. It turned out the inn wasn’t entirely vacant: rabbits had taken up residence, warmed by a place that had warmed so many hotel guests before.
Watch the slide show.