Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A little history of the inn and Williamstown, MA

About the 1896 House Inn

The 1896 House was built in 1896 as a milking barn, complete with bull pen, and was turned into a famous restaurant in 1939 and enjoyed an unparalleled reputation for excellence for approximately 40 years. The draw was so great that a lodging facility was built in 1951 to accommodate the patrons. Soon additional guest rooms were added.

Sometime in the 1970's, the lodging portion and restaurant were sold separately and began operating separately.

In 1985, ownership of the 16 guest rooms was transferred to Sue Morelle & Denise Richer from Rhode Island. They began what was to be a 17 year acquisition and renovation period. Upon completion of the original lodging structure, “Brookside”, a second lodging facility across the street became part of the “1896” family and was completely transformed and named “Pondside”. 

In 1995, The 1986 House Barn housing a restaurant was purchased and underwent a total structural and cosmetic rebirth, thereby remarrying the original properties and creating a complex of three buildings on 17 acres with brooks, ponds, and gardens. One actually passes through the 1896 House property when traveling to Williamstown via Route 7, the scenic corridor to it’s south.

In 2000, six new luxury “Barnside Suites” were constructed in the former banquet hall where Williamstown Theatre Festival held its famous Cabaret.  It is here in 1987 that Christopher Reeve first lay eyes on Dana Morosini and fell in love! They entertained in this beautiful space for a couple of seasons!  The Suites are grand, gracious, and as romantic as found anywhere. A full candlelight breakfast is included.

In 2005, the previous restaurant was re-claimed by the owners of The 1896 House and transformed into an unusual, upscale and now very popular Pub. Because the locals have always referred to the 1896 House Barn as either "The "6 House" or "The '96 House", the new Pub was dubbed "The '6 House Pub".

About Williamstown, MA

Originally called West Hoosac, the area was first settled in 1749. Fort West Hoosac, a blockhouse and stockade, was built in 1756. The town was incorporated in 1765 as Williamstown after Ephraim Williams, who was killed in the French and Indian War. He bequeathed a significant sum to the town on the condition that it were named after him and started a free school. In 1791, the school opened, becoming Williams College in 1793. A college town, it is home to Williams College, the Clark Art Institute and the Tony-awarded Williamstown Theatre Festival, which runs every July and August.