SHERIDAN — The Historic Sheridan Inn is within a few months of opening under new ownership. Hopes are that by early June, 11 of the Inn’s rooms will be ready to rent and the new restaurant will be up and running, but first-floor tours from volunteer guides may start as early as next week.
After unforeseen complications in a renovation project, the inn was foreclosed in 2012 and placed on the commercial market, where it was purchased by Bob and Dana Townsend last fall. The Townsends quickly got to work finishing the originally planned restoration of the building, which includes reviving the upper levels into guest rooms decorated by theme of historical Western figures like Annie Oakley, Sitting Bull and, of course, Wild Bill.
In addition to providing family friendly boarding accommodations for travelers, the associated restaurant will be open to the general public to drop in for meals. Townsend would not yet release the name or managers of the new restaurant. The Inn will also once again be an available venue for meetings or conferences.
Bob Townsend said the hotel will likely employ eight to 10 people, and the restaurant will add an additional 25-30 jobs to Sheridan. The last phase of the Inn’s reopening will also include a gift shop in the building’s basement, and will likely be complete by the fall.
The reopening of the Inn is one that has been carefully calculated after extensive community involvement.
“It’s taken a little bit longer to pull together, but we’ve been very picky about what we want to do in here,” Townsend explained, emphasizing that he sees his role in restoring the Inn as secondary to the tremendous community effort already put forth.
The completion of planned construction represents a $1-1.2 million investment for the Inn’s new owners, who were able to build upon the previous investment of $4.8 million from the Sheridan Heritage Center.
“A lot of those donors were maybe hurt they have invested these dollars and it went flat. We intend to honor what they did,” Townsend said. “The reality is we could not have finished this had they not did what they did.”
Townsend said each completed room will be assigned a plaque with the names of contributors who enabled the project to be accomplished.
“It’s a simple thing to do, but I think it speaks loudly this really was a community effort,” Townsend said.
Townsend said the Inn’s updates are being made with families in mind. Some rooms feature smaller beds for kids, and the restaurant menu will be practical and price conscientious. While the building’s updates include compliance with the modern fire code and handicap accessibility, accents dating back to the late 1800s are replete throughout the building.
Old doors will be converted into headboards and the original window latches remain intact. Guests will be issued a key instead of a magnetic card to preserve the historic feel of the facility.
At the same time the historic site is open for business, public access to the building will be made possible via a newly established nonprofit organization called Friends of the Sheridan Inn. The three stated objectives of the group are to preserve the historical federal easement on the property, provide for proper care and display of artifacts and to bring in speakers, artists and seminars for educational purposes.
“What I’m trying to do is build a bridge between the past and then into the future. I absolutely believe the best days of the Sheridan Inn have not yet been seen,” Townsend said. “I absolutely believe the best is yet to come.”