Newly reopened White House Inn looking for a buyer

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WILMINGTON — The White House Inn reopened for the long weekend at the beginning of this month.

"The inn is for sale," Bob Grinold, owner, said Tuesday. "But the plan is to open it in the winter if something doesn't develop in the very near future."

Opening Oct. 5-6, Grinold said, was his way of letting people know he is still alive and well and the inn is no longer affiliated with the Hermitage Club. He held the mortgage, foreclosed the property then took back ownership near the end of September.

Grinold said he had to put "a lot of work" into cleaning the inn and addressing deferred maintenance.

"Just cleaning the kitchen was a major project," he said. "I think it must have been demoralized staff who never cleaned anything over the past times it was open. It was awful. It took much longer than I thought it would."

He said several "totally neglected" sections of the building were rebuilt and some areas were landscaped that had not been touched in months or years.

The inn had a "rather limited" opening this month, Grinold said.

"I didn't want to start up dinner staff and then shut it down two or three weeks later," he said.

Grinold cooked breakfast for guests, something he said he had done for the 35 years his family owned and operated the inn. Two other people had run the inn between him and the Hermitage.

For the winter, Grinold said he is prepared to hire a manager for the inn. He said his son Adam Grinold, executive director at Brattleboro Development Credit Corp., had run the business at one point while he was off having a "good time" sailing boats from Canada to South America

Grinold said he has a few prospects interested in purchasing the inn now.

"I'm not sure if we're going to open it up again until we get into the winter season, possibly Thanksgiving," he said. "We're still trying to decide."

At 78, Grinold said he is a little too old to run the inn and other real estate he owns. He also is a landlord for buildings in Wilmington.

The inn is listed for $2.8 million on eastcoastinnbrokers.com.

"I just assume resell it and somebody's going to get themselves a bargain," Grinold said, adding that the price is more than $500,000 less than what Hermitage founder Jim Barnes was seeking when he had put the property up for sale. "A lot of money has been spent on that building in the last six or seven years. If someone wants to run that inn, it's a golden opportunity. I made a lot of money when I ran it and the rooms were half the price they're rented at now."

Grinold said when Barnes approached him about buying the inn, Barnes was buying up a lot of property in the Deerfield Valley for Hermitage establishments.

"It was a good thing ... then he started falling behind and falling behind ... then he would play catch up," Grinold said. "It wasn't working."

Barnes owes Grinold more than $1.3 million, according to a judgement issued in July in Windham Superior Court, Civil

Division.

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.

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