After changes approved, Hancock Inn could reopen this summer

The pergola at Hancock Inn will be completed and enclosed where two wrought-iron gates will allow entry and exit from the back garden.

The pergola at Hancock Inn will be completed and enclosed where two wrought-iron gates will allow entry and exit from the back garden. STAFF PHOTO BY CAMERON CASHMAN

The current Hancock Inn road sign will be removed and replaced with a polished nickel plaque.

The current Hancock Inn road sign will be removed and replaced with a polished nickel plaque. STAFF PHOTO BY CAMERON CASHMAN

The nickel plaque will be installed next to the inn’s front door.

The nickel plaque will be installed next to the inn’s front door. STAFF PHOTO BY CAMERON CASHMAN

The Hancock Inn has installed recessed lights into the front porch awning.

The Hancock Inn has installed recessed lights into the front porch awning. STAFF PHOTO BY CAMERON CASHMAN

The current Hancock Inn road sign will be removed and replaced with a polished nickel placque.

The current Hancock Inn road sign will be removed and replaced with a polished nickel placque. STAFF PHOTO BY CAMERON CASHMAN

By CAMERON CASHMAN

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Published: 05-30-2024 12:01 PM

The Hancock Historic District Commission approved several proposed alterations to the Hancock Inn at a public forum Tuesday night – potentially paving the way for the inn to reopen this summer.

Craig Hastings, the inn’s director of hospitality, said the changes to the building’s exterior are the last that require approval before the inn can reopen. He said reopening is tentatively scheduled for August, although it will depend on the pace of the construction project. The inn has been closed since Boston-based investor group 33 Main Street Realty LLC bought the business from Jarvis and Marcia Coffin in April 2022. At the time, spokesperson Kerri Landry said the inn would reopen in the summer of 2023 after renovation, and now the inn’s website says “reopening 2024.”

The changes proposed Tuesday include the installation of two ornate wrought-iron gates at the perimeter of the property’s garden, the removal of the existing “Hancock Inn” sign, and the installation of a polished silver placard to replace the old sign.

Additionally, the inn has removed an old wooden fence that lined the perimeter of the property, and installed recessed lights in the front porch awning, both of which required the Historic District Commission’s approval. However, the changes were made before the commission received an application for them.

The Tuesday night meeting served to approve the proposed changes and retroactively approve the removal of the fence and installation of the recessed lights.

Attorney Mark Fernald, who represents 33 Main Street Realty, came before the commission, along with Hastings and general manager Michael Moody, to explain the extent of the changes. The gates would be installed in the rear of the building, where hedges will enclose a pergola and garden. The gates would allow guests to enter and exit into the back garden and parking lot.

Fernald explained that the enclosure and gates are necessary for the inn to serve alcohol, and guests would not be able to take alcoholic beverages beyond the borders of the enclosure.

After the commission was satisfied with the purpose, design and material of the proposed gates, all participating members voted in favor of the gates. Marcia Coffin recused herself from the deliberation.

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Regarding the removal of a previously installed picket fence, which should have received approval from the commission, Fernald explained: “When my client bought the inn, there was a picket fence around a smaller garden area than what they’re proposing now.” 

Fernald said that the fence was installed incorrectly and was taken out to make room for the pergola and a larger garden space.

Laurie Bryan from the commission explained that regardless of how it was installed, it still did require approval, although there were no concerns from the commission or members of the public. The commission subsequently approved the fence’s removal.

The installation of recessed lights on the front porch awning, which was also done before approval by the commission, generated some discussion from the commission and several residents. The lights were initially installed without a dimmer switch, and neighbors complained that they were too bright.

“The light just pours into my living room all winter long, and often through the night” said abutter Sarah Gilliat.

The inn installed a dimmer switch, which allows the lights to be brought town to about 10% intensity. During a site walk-through prior to the hearing, the commission observed the intensity of the lights with the new dimmer switch, and were pleased with the result.

It was asked whether or not the lights would be on through the night.

“Well they’ll have to, unfortunately, because we never know when guests are coming and going ; we’ll have to have it lit for them,” explained Moody. Hastings added that it was necessary to conform to fire code.

Finally, the inn was seeking approval to remove  the current “Hancock Inn” hanging sign on Main Street and to replace it with a polished nickel plaque to be installed next to the inn’s front door.

Since the sign is not original to the inn’s construction, its removal was approved. Members were pleased with the polished nickel replacement, and also approved its installation.