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Lifestyles

September 28, 2013

Preserving history

Volunteers bring Major's Inn back to life

The Major’s Inn in Gilbertsville represents an opulent time in the history of upstate New York, when the area’s natural resources were used to secure several family fortunes. And thanks to a group of dedicated volunteers, its opulence is being preserved for generations to come. 

The Tudor-style 55-room hotel was the center of commerce and hospitality in the early Industrial Era of American history. And it was in good company. 

“The entire village of Gilbertsville is on the National Registry of Historic Places,” said Gilbertsville historian Leigh Eckmair. “The architectural history of Gilbertsville includes almost every period from 1790 to current styles, most of which are in fairly pristine condition.”

The main floor of the Inn is used by area groups such as the quilters who will have a quilt show Oct. 4 to 6 at the Major’s Inn, as well as individuals who have booked private parties and weddings at the Inn. It is overseen by the Major’s Inn Foundation Inc., whose work to keep the inn preserved is ongoing. 

“We are restoring the Inn,” said foundation Executive Director Cece Rowe. “We are so thankful to Sen. (James) Seward for the help he has given us in finding funding for this project. It is a monumental project, and a lot of what we have been able to do has come from individual donors.”

The inn was built by Maj. James L. Gilbert, the eighth son of a village merchant. Gilbert began the building as a replacement of his childhood home, which had been destroyed by fire. He decided to design the house as a complement to the rebuilt merchant’s block, which had been done in the Tudor style.

After construction on the building began, according to Eckmair’s history of the inn, Gilbert decided to expand the site to accommodate a larger number of guests and turned the whole idea into an inn of distinction.

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