The Red Lion Inn

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Discover The Red Lion Inn, which has existed as a colorful gathering place in Stockbridge for over 200 years.

The Red Lion Inn was constructed during the American Revolution, in which the thirteen American Colonies fought for their freedom from Great Britain.

According to tradition, Silas Pepoon established a small tavern on the corner of Main Street in 1773, under the sign of a red lion. A year later, angry citizens gathered at Pepoon’s to boycott English goods and to pass resolutions protesting the oppressive Acts of Intolerance levied against the colonies. Since its earliest days, the inn was a vital gathering place for locals and has continued to play an important role in the life of the community ever since.

In 1862, the inn was owned by Mr. and Mrs. Charles Plumb, avid collectors of rare and fine items, who became renowned for their impressive compilation of colonial antiques. A fire in 1896 destroyed the building but its remarkable array of collectibles was saved and the inn was rebuilt within a year.

Operating continuously for over 200 years, the inn has had several names but has always been identified by the red lion. The Red Lion’s quintessential New England charm was immortalized by Norman Rockwell in his painting Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas.

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    The Red Lion’s quintessential New England charm was immortalized by Norman Rockwell in his painting Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas.


Image of Historian Stanley Turkel, Historic Hotels of America Image of Stanley Turkel's Book Built To Last: 100 Year Old Hotels East of the Mississippi, Historic Hotels of America.

Guest Historian Series

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Nobody Asked Me, But... No. 224;


Hotel History: The Red Lion Inn (1773), Stockbridge, Massachusetts*



By Stanley Turkel, CMHS



For more than 246 years, the Red Lion Inn has been welcoming visitors to the Berkshires with traditional New England hospitality. Sometime in 1773, Anna and Silas Bingham opened a general store which became a stagecoach stop, tavern and the Stockbridge House. In 1786, Daniel Shays led a group of more than 100 local farmers and citizens to protest post-war taxation. Stockbridge was the headquarters for “Shays Rebellion.”



In 1807, Anna Bingham sold the eight-room inn to store owner Silas Pepoon. Over time, the Inn changed hands many times and in 1862 Charles and Mert Plumb began a ninety-year family ownership dynasty. The arrival of the Housatonic Railroad in 1842 and its extension to Pittsfield in 1850 made Stockbridge more accessible and attractive to wealthy families who built grand “cottages”. In 1884, the Inn was enlarged to accommodate 100 guests and the quality of food and amenities improved. Under Mert Plumb’s direction the Inn was renamed “Plumb’s Hotel” and became a museum-like repository of antique furniture, crockery, pewter and teapots.



In 1896, a fire nearly destroyed the destination but the Berkshire Courier in Great Barrington reported that “Mrs. Plumb’s noted collection of colonial china, pictures, wearing apparel and furniture, the largest of its kind in the country, and to the delight of everyone who went to Stockbridge, was saved.” Mr. Plumb’s nephew, Allen T. Treadway (aided by his assistant James H. Punderson, whose daughter Molly later became the third wife of famed illustrator Norman Rockwell) undertook the restoration and in May 1897, the Red Lion was opened, more attractive than ever.



From the Red Lion Inn’s inception until it was leveled by fire in 1896, its crest was a red lion waving a green tail. It is believed that while the red lion was symbolic of the Crown, the green tail indicated sympathy for the colonists during the Revolutionary War. At its rebirth in 1897, Mr. Treadway unveiled a new crest in the form of a shield. At the top were a lion and two dates: 1773 and 1897, indicating the birth and rebirth of the Inn. Within the body of the shield were a teapot, plate, Franklin stove, highboy, clock and two large keys representing the Inn’s fine collection of antiques. In the early 1920s, the shield was replaced by the traditional lion that we see today, plump and well-fed sporting the familiar red tail.



In November 1968, the Inn was nearly demolished for construction of a gasoline station. It was rescued by John and Jane Fitzpatrick, the founders of Country Curtains, a mail order business. The Fitzpatricks were so intrigued by the Inn’s history that they installed a large new kitchen and dining room called Widow Bingham’s tavern. On May 29, 1969, the Inn was opened for year-round business for the first time. In 1974, several nearby buildings, including the former village firehouse, were purchased to be used as guesthouses. Mr. Fitzpattrick served four terms as Massachusetts state senator from 1972-1980 and once again the Red Lion Inn became the center of political activity in Berkshire County.



A charter member of Historic Hotels of America since 1989, The Red Lion Inn has been providing food and lodging to guests for more than two centuries. The Red Lion is recommended by National Geographic Traveler, The New York Times, and The Boston Globe. It offers 108 antique-filled rooms and suites, formal and casual dining with an emphasis on contemporary regional specialties, and the Lion’s Den pub with nightly entertainment, a year-round heated outdoor pool and hot tub (with radiant-heated patio).



The inn has hosted six presidents and numerous other notable figures including Nathaniel Hawthorne, William Cullen Bryant and Henry Wordsworth Longfellow. The Red Lion’s quintessential New England charm was immortalized by Norman Rockwell in his painting Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas.



*****



About Stanley Turkel, CMHS



Stanley Turkel is a recognized consultant in the hotel industry. He operates his hotel consulting practice serving as an expert witness in hotel-related cases and providing asset management an and hotel franchising consultation. Prior to forming his hotel consulting firm, Turkel was the Product Line Manager for worldwide Hotel/Motel Operations at the International Telephone & Telegraph Co. overseeing the Sheraton Corporation of America. Before joining IT&T, he was the Resident Manager of the Americana Hotel (1842 Rooms), General Manager of the Drake Hotel (680 Rooms) and General Manager of the Summit Hotel (762 Rooms), all in New York City. He serves as a Friend of the Tisch Center and lectures at the NYU Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism. He is certified as a Master Hotel Supplier Emeritus by the Educational Institute of the American Hotel and Lodging Association. He served for eleven years as Chairman of the Board of the Trustees of the City Club of New York and is now the Honorary Chairman.




Stanley Turkel is one of the most widely-published authors in the hospitality field. More than 275 articles on various hotel subjects have been posted in hotel magazines and on the Hotel-Online, Blue MauMau, Hotel News Resource and eTurboNews websites. Two of his hotel books have been promoted, distributed and sold by the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (Great American Hoteliers: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry and Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi). A third hotel book (Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels in New York) was called "passionate and informative" by the New York Times. Executive Vice President of Historic Hotels of America, Lawrence Horwitz, has even praised one book, Great American Hoteliers Volume 2: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry:



  • “If you have ever been in a hotel, as a guest, attended a conference, enjoyed a romantic dinner, celebrated a special occasion, or worked as a hotelier in the front or back of the house, Great American Hoteliers, Volume 2: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry is a must read book. This book is recommended for any business person, entrepreneur, student, or aspiring hotelier. This book is an excellent history book with insights into seventeen of the great innovators and visionaries of the hotel industry and their inspirational stories.”


Turkel was designated as the “2014 Historian of the Year by Historic Hotels of America,” the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This award is presented to an individual for making a unique contribution in the research and presentation of history and whose work has encouraged a wide discussion, greater understanding and enthusiasm for American History.



Works published by Stanley Turkel include:



Most of these books can be ordered from AuthorHouse—(except Heroes of the American Reconstruction, which can be ordered from McFarland)—by visiting www.stanleyturkel.com, or by clicking on the book’s title.



Contact: Stanley Turkel



stanturkel@aol.com/917-628-8549

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