Salisbury’s historic White Hart Inn, a gathering spot for local residents and visitors before it closed in 2010, has been sold for $2.9 million to an investor group that hopes to reopen the landmark in August.
The inn, which dates to the 1860s, was purchased by an investor group with ties to Litchfield County. The group is led by Thomas Conley Rollins Jr., a New York investment banker who has a home in nearby Sharon.
“The White Hart has been an important part of the Salisbury community for over 200 years and for the past three and a half years it has been missing,” Rollins said in an email. “A group came together with a shared interest in making the White Hart a vital part of the community once again.”
One member of the group is Annie Wayte, a chef who opened Nicole’s in London and later brought the name to New York City, said Pat Best, co-owner of Best & Cavallaro in Salisbury, which had the listing.
Wayte will supervise the inn’s reopening and the dining menu for the White Hart’s restaurant, Best said. The purchase closed May 9, she said.
“It is going to be what it always was: a traditional country inn,” Best said. “They are going to bring it back to what is was: the center of town.”
The inn, opened in 1867, takes its name from a tavern in Salisbury, England. In the 1940s, Ford family heir Edsel Ford bought the inn in the 1940s when he couldn’t find a place to stay while visiting his son during parents’ weekend at the Hotchkiss School, also in Salisbury.
In the 1960s, the family that owned the White Hart added new guest rooms and other features.
The inn’s history also has hit some bumps in recent years: it fell into foreclosure into the late 1980s and was sold in an auction.
The most recent owner, Innac Corp., purchased the inn for $1.3 million in 1998. One of the members was Scott L. Bok, a New York investment banker who also owned a home in town.
In 2010, the inn underwent a $5 million renovation, gutting guest rooms, creating 15 luxury suites with refurbished baths and most with living rooms.
Some locals grumbled that the renovations transformed the inn into a place that was too upscale. The inn was reopened after the renovations but abruptly closed after six months and was quickly put up for sale.
The original asking price of $5 million was whittled down several times, finally reaching $3.9 million, Best said.
Best said the $2.9 million price reflects about $2.1 million for the property and the remainder for furnishings.
The closing left of the inn, on Salisbury’s town green, left a hole in what had been a community gathering spot not only for lodging but community celebrations. It was the place, Best said, where Santa made an appearance at the holidays and where there was the chili contest in the fall.
“We’re just thrilled it is re-opening,” Best said. “It’s been a long three-and-a-half years.”