AVON — After surviving a fire and the push to modernize this 180-year-old treasure is getting a facelift.
The Avon Inn was originally built in 1840 as the homestead of Jonathan H. Gerry, who at the time was a successful broom corn grower. However, 26 years later this lovely Greek revival structure was turned into a health sanitarium. In 1866 this health center was well-known from Maine to Florida. The water from the sulfur springs was instrumental in treating rheumatism, neuralgia, malaria and other conditions.
It had many firsts; the first central heating system in Genesee Valley; the first elevator in Upstate New York; and the site of the first bank and post office in Livingston County.
The new owners of the historic Avon Inn are Jennifer and Jim Krause. The Krause’s found elegance and true beauty in this local gem, and wanted to bring it back to life. Jim Krause had his first job as a dishwasher at the Avon Inn. The Krause’s had their wedding night and rehearsal at the famous Avon Inn.
The Tavern will be open for casual dining nightly from 4 to 9 p.m. unless it is closed for a wedding, shower, party, or any other special event.
It took the Krause’s about 14 months to get it all ready for the dining area, and the 14 rooms will be ready by April.
“We had lots of people here New Year’s Eve for our grand opening,” Jennifer Krause said. “We had two engagements take place here that night. We already have a few weddings booked.”
The local fundraiser in honor of Avon High School student Blair Phillips will be back in full swing on Jan. 27. The Tavern will be closed for dining that night, and used for the event. MusicFest is an event to benefit Avon HS Blair Phillips Scholarship Fund and Avon Community Cares. Get your tickets and come to enjoy music, dancing, silent auction, raffles in the beautifully restored Avon Inn. Tickets are available at Duffy's in Avon. $15 per-person or four for $50. Prices increase at door.
Krause told Genesee Country Express that past owners Frank Csapo and Linda Moran have been very supportive of them.
“Frank is the real hero of Avon Inn. In the winter of 1979 there was a fire here, and it destroyed the third floor, which was part of the health center. Frank bought the Avon Inn and restored it over a couple of years. After that is was sold to Linda, who was 24 years old at the time. Linda was the longest owner of Avon Inn. She owned it for 34 years.”
The wealthy and the famous were often guests at the Avon Inn in the early days. Some of these well-known historic figures were George Eastman, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Harvey Firestone, Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, General Jonathan M. Wainwright, Corregidor hero of World War II and Katharine Hepburn.
The Krause’s are putting their own spin on this classic, but are also planning to bring back the old. The dining area has been extended, the Tavern menu has become more casual dining friendly, and the rooms will be more true to the period the hotel was established with a modern twist.
Jennifer Krause said they are keeping the wedding tradition going at Avon Inn. There are wedding photos from the Avon Inn going back to as early as 1905. They hope to add more to the already impressive collection on the walls of the Tavern.
“We are just a chapter in this 180-year-old buildings history, and we will pass it on to someone else one day,” she said. “We look forward to carrying on the long tradition of having weddings at Avon Inn.”
Jim Krause said that it is exciting to own the building he once worked at in high school.
“New Year’s Eve was done up like they had it in the old days with a horse and carriage, period clothing, coat checking, valet parking, and old-fashioned music,” he said. “We had the whole place filled with people. We want to build up the weddings, because that will be the key to our success.”
The Krause’s share Moran’s vision to keep the history alive in the Avon Inn.
In 1889 there were at least 70 rooms in the health center, and the call board is still in the reservation room. This was how the guests communicated their needs to the staff in those days.
“Avon is a great town and has a lot to offer,” Jennifer Krause said. “We are excited to be a part of it. People will love to get away, and enjoy the small-town life here. The town has been very supportive of what we are trying to do here.”
The Tavern will have burgers, sandwiches, salads, appetizers, steaks, pastas, seafood, and be available 4 to 9 p.m. seven days a week.
The Avon Inn is located at 55 East Main St., 585-226,8181, and more information can be found on http://avoninnny.com
The Avon Inn features a newly designed ballroom to host special events, corporate retreats and weddings of up to 200 guests. Fourteen boutique style hotel rooms will also be available April. Both guests of the hotel and the local community will be able to enjoy casual dining in the bar/tavern area as well as the expansive wrap-around porch.