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Monday, October 20, 2014

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Officials hope new owners preserve inn's charm

Updated 3:57 pm, Friday, August 29, 2014

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  • The Roger Sherman Inn, 195 Oenoke Ridge, New Canaan, Conn., hit the market Aug. 22, 2014, with an asking price of $6 million, according to a listing on  Halstead Property's website. Photo: Contributed Photo, Contributed / New Canaan News Contributed
    The Roger Sherman Inn, 195 Oenoke Ridge, New Canaan, Conn., hit the market Aug. 22, 2014, with an asking price of $6 million, according to a listing on Halstead Property's website. Photo: Contributed Photo, Contributed

 

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The Roger Sherman Inn, a nearly 100-year-old New Canaan landmark, has just hit the market with an asking price of $6 million.

The 1.8-acre property, at 195 Oenoke Ridge, was listed on Halstead Property Aug. 22.

The elegant inn has 25 rooms, including 17 bedrooms, seven dining rooms, indoor and outdoor seating and a bar/lounge.

Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Laszlo Papp said he would like the next owner to protect the property's historic value.

"Indeed, it's a very important historical landmark," he said. "To lose it as a building would be a great loss to New Canaan."

Papp also said a potential new construction "hopefully will be an acceptable residential unit, much like (its neighbor) the Maples Inn, with its historical fa├žade preserved."

According to Roger Sherman Inn's website, the building dates back to the 1700s and was originally called the Mitchell-Bond House, which was named after the Rev. Justus Mitchell, a minister of the Congregational Church of Canaan Parish, who built it, and William Bond, "a New York financier who bought it in 1868" and remodeled and expanded the property.

The private residence became the Holmewood Inn in 1925, when a carriage house with 10 more guest rooms was added, according to the website. After changing hands several times, the property was named Roger Sherman Inn after the famous Connecticut patriot, "who had the distinction of being the only delegate to the Continental Congress to sign all four of the key documents of the Revolutionary period," the website states.

Janet Lindstrom, executive director of the New Canaan Historical Society, said the property is one of New Canaan's best-known historical buildings.

"It's such a landmark in town," she said. "Everyone has a memory of doing something or being part of the Roger Sherman in some way."

Its current owners are restaurateurs Joseph and Nes Jaffre, who purchased the inn in 2008. Joseph Jaffre said the couple would not comment.

The property is currently assessed at $2,507,330, according to the tax collector's website. Tax records also show the owners owe $548.61 in 2013 back taxes while another $20,793 have been due since July 1.

Tucker Murphy, executive director of the New Canaan Chamber of Commerce, also hopes the property remains an inn. With its "charm and tradition," she said, the Roger Sherman Inn is "a huge part of our community."

"It's such a wonderful place and an important aspect of our town," Murphy said, noting that the inn is the New Canaan's only bed-and-breakfast facility and serves as the main event venue for several service organizations, such as the Kiwanis Club of New Canaan and the Rotary Club of New Canaan. "It's going to be a real loss for a lot of the service groups," she said.

Room rates at Roger Sherman Inn range from $125 to $350 -- or even $420 during the "seasonal pricing" period of Oct. 15 to Dec. 31 -- according to the business' website.

Lindstrom hopes the next owners keep it at least "reminiscent" of the inn.

"I hope that somehow the appearance and idea remain," she said. "It would be very nice if it would go on in the same way that it is now, but I know that things and times do change."

Noting that there's been speculation that new buyers would propose an affordable housing development on the property, Papp said that "would be the worst possible use for this site."

"We are very optimistic that instead of that, some buyer or developer is going to work with us to find a suitable development there," he said, adding that "it would be terrific" to have a similar business on the site, but he's "not sure the economic support for the inn is there."

noliveira@bcnnew.com, 203-330-6582, @olivnelson