Tuesday, October 17, 2006

A Community Altering Restoration

As I've traveled around the USA over the past several years, touring hundreds of towns, I've become more convinced that communities maybe get six to ten community altering opportunities that can significantly change the community for the better. Some towns take full advantage of those unique opportunities but unfortunately many miss their chance to improve. Bedford, PA had just such an opportunity, worked hard to make it happen and are already reaping the benefits for the restoration of the Bedford Springs Resort, a 200 year old historical landmark, which has been closed since 1990 but will reopen next summer.

The original native stone building, a 24 room hotel, was built in the early 1800s and is one of the historic buildings being restored into the new 216 room Bedford Springs Hotel. Developer Keith Evans was in Bedford when I was there and gave me a tour of the project. He and Ambassador Mark Langdale (ambassador to Costa Rica) have been working on the project for over a decade.

Evans explained to me, "We took all of the original columns, windows, doors, rails, and other items off site and completely renovated them for this project. We've spent over $1 million on the restoration of Shober's Creek, a gold medal trout stream that runs by the front door. We got the state to reroute Route 220, which used to run right by the front door with trucks and all sorts of traffic so that our guests would have a more tranquil setting. Our golf course, The Old Course at Bedford Springs, built in 1896 and completely redone in 1923 by Donald Ross is being redone. We have a 2,200 acre canvas to work with."

The project's $110 million cost, originally estimated at $37 million, was assembled like a jig-saw puzzle with funding from traditional sources, tax credits, state tax credits and federal redevelopment funds. It took years to put the project together after the resort closed its doors in 1990.

The Bedford Springs Resort was in its prime in the 1800s, hosting seven US presidents and serving as the summer White House for President James S. Buchanan. In 1858 President Buchanan received the first ever transcontinental cable from Queen Victoria of Great Britain. Future president Ronald Reagan visited the resort in 1975.

One very trivial change occured in 1902 when the order of meals was changed from breakfast, dinner and supper to breakfast, lunch and dinner. I didn't find out what the order will be at the new hotel, but plan to return to find out.


Anonymous said...

Any palce we can get pictures. Perhaps before the renovation began and then hopefully soon when it is completed?

BoomtownUSA said...

I hope to post some pictures in the next day or two. My computer crashed this weekend and I didn't get my photos downloaded until late yesterday.

I like your idea of the before and after photos and will try to get those done sometime in 2007 after they reopen.

Anonymous said...

We came across the Bedford Springs Hotel a few years back while out driving..during the Fall Foilage Festival ! I have been obsessed with it ever since...writing to the Chamber of Commerce, etc. to find out WHAT it was...and WHY it was not being SAVED ! I was so dissappointed last October when we returned..and we couldn't even get out there to SEE it ! (Because they were building a new road ). Have been following its restoration for YEARS ! Can't wait to see it...and STAY THERE ! It is a 3 1/2
hour drive for us...BUT I MAY have to drive over there BEFORE the Foilage Festival in October !! Couldn't get a room for the Festival... Will have to come and stay some other time !! You people are to be commended for SAVING a beautiful landmark ! THANKS !! Joan from Ohio

BoomtownUSA said...

I understand that Bedford Springs recently opened but have not been there for several months. I'm also looking forward to visiting there. I understand that it is spectacular.

Another renovationt to visit is French Lick and West Baden, which is a $400 million renovation project in southern Indiana. It is incredible and I've got several blogs on it from a couple of months ago when I visited.