Deerfield Inn completes 2011 flood repairs
Innkeeper Jane Howard shows how high the Deerfield River flooded the lower level of the Deerfield Inn. Purchase photo reprints »
Karl Sabo and Jane Howard with the sign of the Deerfild Inn Purchase photo reprints »
Innkeepers Jane Howard and Karl Sabo, left, and other staff behind the new wrap around bar at the renovated and improved Deerfield Inn. Purchase photo reprints »
The new bar at Champney's at The Deerfield Inn Purchase photo reprints »
DEERFIELD — In April, the Deerfield Inn on Old Main Street will open for the first time after 18 months of recovering from flooding of Tropical Storm Irene.
In August 2011, Irene sent a swollen Deerfield River rushing into the historic wooden building, flooding it with 5 feet of water. Damage spread throughout the 2½-story inn as the moisture seeped into the walls and ceilings.
The old blue nameplate hanging at the entrance was cracked. The sidewalks and brick siding of the building loosened and splintered.
Like many of the rooms, inside the Beehive Parlor, the front room used for tea and cocktails, yellow historic wallpaper as thick as parchment began to peel from the walls. By the doorway of the Fireplace Lobby, the white ceiling severed and split.
The damage required the innkeepers to upgrade the electrical, heating and ventilation systems and redo the sewer lines. The inn also needed to meet new fire and building codes that have become law since the inn first opened in 1884.
With the help of the inn’s owners, Historic Deerfield Inc. — the nonprofit dedicated to the heritage and preservation of Deerfield and the Connecticut River Valley —innkeepers Karl Sabo and Jane Howard pumped $500,000 of insurance money into the project.
The 129-year-old inn located in Old Deerfield has 24 guest rooms and dining.
Along with the restorations, the innkeepers have taken a chance to update. Champney’s Restaurant and Tavern is where guests will see the biggest change. The innkeepers have re-configured the main floor of the tavern to accommodate a 20-seat bar and dining for about 110 people. Previously, the bar had four seats and the tavern had 35 seats.
“We wanted a place for the community to gather,” Sabo said. “The small tavern we had previously was popular. We wanted to build more of what we thought was popular.” The plan is to emphasize New England dining featuring local foods and beer.
The new executive chef is Matt Skobrak of Connecticut. He has worked at Crab Apple Farm in Chesterfield and cooked at the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods casinos and is a graduate of the New England Culinary Institute.
He plans to introduce casual local dining. “I know both experiences on the farms and restaurants,” Skobrak said. “I know (farmers) struggles and I also know what it takes to put food in a restaurant.”
The tavern will get its produce from the Small Farm and Atlas Farm in Deerfield and the Kitchen Garden in Sunderland. It will get its goat cheese to make flat bread dishes from Sangha Farm in Ashfield. The pork and hamburgers will come from the inn’s neighbor, Yazwinski Farm.
Dishes will change depending on what farmers can provide.
At the new 20-seat bar, customers can expect 12 local beers on taps. The restaurant has a new beer program, in which half of the taps are devoted to local breweries. There will be three taps each for Berkshire Brewing Company, People’s Pint Brewery and Lefty’s Brewing Company. Four other beers — Dogfish Head (a nationally known Delaware brewery run by a Greenfield native), Jack’s Abby, Allagash and Guinness — will also be on tap.
For the opening, People’s Pint and Lefty’s are brewing two special beers.
Prices run the gamut from $6 for a bowl of soup to $85 for a 24-inch steak.
At the inn, guests will find much is familiar when they enter the Fireplace Lobby. Next door, the yellow Beehive Parlor remains the place for cocktails.
The Sabos worked to keep the popular parlor the same.
A local wallpaper manufacturer, John Christianson, found the print of the beehive on plates at Historic Deerfield. With ink screening, he was able to recreate the paper.
The inn will also keep its formal dining section, though smaller. The seating has decreased from 120 seats to 50 to add more space to the abutting tavern.
In June, the Deerfield Inn will have a grand opening.