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Red Mill Inn Opening Soon in Baldwinsville

By Richard Palmer
 
April, 2006

Red Mill Inn Opening Soon in Baldwinsville

 

Red Mill Inn Opening Soon in Baldwinsville
Red Mill Inn developer Jake McKenna with General Manager Becky Beardsley inside the unique adaptive reuse project in Baldwinsville.

BALDWINSVILLE - The Red Mill Inn, a new, top-of-the-line 32-room inn and conference center, is slated to open early in May. It's located in the center of Baldwinsville adjacent to Lock 24 on one of the busiest sections of the Erie Canal.

The Red Mill Inn's heritage dates back more than 175 years. In 1828 Jonas Baldwin and John McHarrie built a three-story gristmill on the Seneca River. The construction of the mill took thousands of man-hours and two years to complete. At various times in its history the mill was known as The Farmers Mill, The Red Mill, and Mercer Mill. It utilized water from the Seneca River to power its mechanical equipment.

The Baldwin and McHarrie families also began many other businesses in the area and were instrumental in founding the community that is now the Village of Baldwinsville.

The timber framed mill building was the first gristmill to be built in the area and is the last mill building still in existence. There were many other flour mills, sawmills, and leather mills built along the river throughout the 1800s. Over the years many of these mills were destroyed by fire or the buildings deteriorated because of the lack of maintenance.

The Red Mill property was sold many times throughout the 19th century, and each new owner updated the equipment and improved the efficiency of the mill. Throughout the 20th century the mill was owned and operated by the Clark and Mercer families and then purchased by William Colton. The mill operated as a flour and grain mill up through 2002 when Mr. Colton shut it down and moved his operation to a new location near Liverpool. The mill produced and sold feed and grain products for farm animals and pets.

The property was purchased in 2002 by a local developer who had plans to convert the building into a restaurant and banquet facility, but the project did not go forward and the property was offered for sale in 2005.

At that time Jay Bernhardt and Jake McKenna purchased the property and set out to develop a concept for the property that would preserve the unique character of the building and create an establishment that would compliment the many businesses located in the Village of Baldwinsville. The property sits on a parcel of land in the center of

the village that is bounded by the Seneca River on one side and Lock E24 of the New York State Canal System on the other side.

After much thought it was decided that the best use for the property would be to convert the building into a 32-room inn and conference center. The new facility was built using the existing footprint of the original structure, and all of the original wood columns and beams were refurbished and incorporated into the new design.

"Every effort has been made to maintain the unique features of the building, while providing a very charming and comfortable destination for guests," said General Manager Becky Beardsley.

The inn will be catering to a wide variety of clientele, including business travelers, overnighters, boaters, business travelers, high school and college graduations, special events, wedding receptions and corporate conferences and meetings. "Everyone is very enthusiastic about our new facility," Ms. Beardsley said, adding, "We offer a wide variety of accommodations."

Each room is uniquely designed to accommodate a wide range of tastes. There are spacious conference and meeting rooms with dividers that can accommodate up to 150 people.

The executive boardroom, with a beautiful view overlooking the canal and the Seneca River on either side, is an exclusive spot to hold private business meetings or an intimate evening party with upscale amenities.

Although the inn has no cooking facilities, guests can arrange for caterers to service their events. And several upscale dining establishments -- including the Lock 24 Restaurant and the Blue Water Grill -- are located just a short walk away. The inn is handicapped-accessible and meets or exceeds all building codes and standards.

The inn, covering 24,000 square feet, is three stories high. It is the product of a design team consisting of Ed Harrington, Dave Mosher, June Schanzenbach, Erica Bernhardt, and Jake McKenna.

One of the most upscale rooms includes a spiral staircase leading from the living area to a loft bedroom. Some rooms have cathedral ceilings. The penthouse suite includes a kitchenette and is connected to the executive board room.

The property was purchased last year by JGB Enterprises and Jake McKenna. The new owners said they felt the historic mill site offered an opportunity to develop an upscale facility of this magnitude in the Northwest sector of Onondaga County.

Parsons McKenna Construction Co. is the general contractor. The design work was done by Edwin Harrington III Architects of Syracuse.

Red Mill Inn Opening Soon in Baldwinsville
A glazier works on restoring windows from the former Mercer Inn that are more than 150 years old. The new inn is being readied to open in May.

Setting off the interior are the original structural beams that add to the ambiance of antiquity, reflecting the developers' effort to preserve the past. A special area inside the main entrance has been created to display historical artifacts, old photos and memorabilia.

Many of the original windows have been restored for reuse. Mr. McKenna said every effort was made to make it a modern facility, yet preserve its historic character. Its foundation was rebuilt with steel beams and reinforced concrete, as well as new 14-inch-square oak beams to match the existing ones. The spacious hallway and rooms are all offset with finished woodwork. The library has a fireplace with an attractive antique mission style mantel and an oak panel wainscot. The cost of the entire project is $3.1 million.

Becky Beardsley, with more than a decade of experience in hotel management, is the general manager. She will be supervising a staff of between eight and 12 full and part-time personnel.

 

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