The Homestead Inn -- a landmark bids farewell
Published 3:50 pm, Friday, March 13, 2015
One of New Milford's landmark businesses will close its doors Sunday.
For owner Sherry Greenman, the iconic Homestead Inn will always hold a special place in her memory.
She'll always remember the happiness she found there with her late husband, Bill Greenman.
On March 15, the inn will close after 87 years serving its patrons.
Bill Greenman died of cancer in August and Sherry Greenman is selling the business at 5 Elm St. to return to her home country, the Philippines.
"It's hard for me to close the inn," Greenman said Monday. "But everything I do, every room I go into, I remember Bill and how he made everyone laugh. I cry every day."
Greenman has worked tirelessly to keep the inn open since her husband's death, with the help of Francesca Morrissey.
Morrissey has served as the general manager since September 2012. She had been on staff as an assistant innkeeper and, as Bill Greenman struggled with cancer, he asked her to take over management.
"Everything just rolled off of Bill," Morrissey said. "He called me one day in April and said, `Are you busy this weekend?' "
Greenman was to have surgery to remove a tumor on his brain. He had put the inn on the market in 2011 when he received the cancer diagnosis.
Sherry Greenman said she since has found it untenable to keep the business open since his death.
The closing will end a remarkable run for the multi-building inn complex at the corner of Elm Street and Treadwell Avenue, across the street from New Milford Hospital and just a short walk from the Village Green.
The Homestead Inn has an iconic history.
The main building was built as a private home in 1853 by John Prime Treadwell. Three generations of his family lived there until 1915.
It was then owned by George T. Sperry.
In 1928, May Philpot purchased the building and established it as The Homestead Inn. She would remain the owner and innkeeeper for 49 years, as well as one of the town's high profile women.
The inn soon became a leading hotel in the Greater New Milford area. A second building was added in 1938, housing a restaurant for many years.
The Kennedys were among the first of many celebrity guests who would come to think of the inn as a second home.
In 1955, the restaurant was closed and converted to motel rooms.
The inn remained in Philpot's ownership until 1977 when Don and Barbara McPherson bought it and operated it until 1985.
It was then sold to Rolf and Peggy Hammer, who became popular inkeepers during their ownership into 2003.
Bill Greenman purchased the inn from the Hammers at that point.
"Our guests really enjoyed talking to Bill," Sherry Greenman recalled. "He was always joking, telling local and international stories."
"We've had many regular guests who were from Europe, Korea, China, Vietnam, Russia," she added. "They were all like family."
Luigi Fulinello, New Milford's economic development director, said the loss of the inn is "very disappointing."
"The Homestead certainly has a longstanding history in the town, which makes it even more disappointing to lose its presence," Fulinello said. "It is important for guests to our town to have options."
"And with the closing of this inn," he reflected, "an establishment that has met that need is lost."
The Homestead Inn has been host to families scouting schools to send their children to area prep schools including Canterbury, Kent, South Kent and The Gunnery.
Kimberly-Clark, Garick Farms, and Neeltran have housed visiting corporate guests there.
Like many guests before him, he took Sherry's waffle recipe home with him.
"Sherry and Francesca are lovely," said Hanna Abair, associate co-manager of Pilobolus. "They've been family to us. The charm of the inn is its location to the Village Green."
"They always accommodated us," she noted. "We could call at the last minute and cancel or say `We need 14 rooms.' They were always gracious."