To that end, Berkshire craftsmen created many of the furnishings
and fixtures for the hotel, and the ground-floor gift boutique features
a range of home-grown products.
The lobby reflects the Tierneys’ mission. On the wall hangs a giant
reproduction of a front page of the Berkshire Eagle newspaper depicting
a crowded street map of Pittsfield in 1899, when the city was an economic powerhouse. Eustis points to “the birdcage,” the old elevator
used when the building housed Besse-Clarke, a menswear and sporting goods store. It’s a two-person capsule made of fanciful metal scrollwork that evokes the belle epoque.
The front desk is lit by a sputnik chandelier inspired by the daz-
zling behemoth that hangs in the Metropolitan Opera House at Lin-
coln Center in New York. There are polished dark wood floors, custom-
made pressed-tin ceilings, and exposed brick walls. A newly added
revolving door practically shouts “HOTEL,” and floor-to-ceiling win-
dows look out to North Street, where, as if on cue, a gray BMW with
out-of-state plates has just pulled up.
Tierney says the project could not have happened without the
help of Historic Preservation Tax Incentives, a federal program administered by the National Park Service designed to promote reuse of historic buildings. The application process was rigorous because of the
buildings’ age and the change of use. The upper floors had limited natural light, and there was no such thing back in the 1880s as the atrium
proposed for the upper floors, so it took some wrangling to negotiate.
“They understood this was never going to be used as a department
store again, but the brick walls, the tin ceilings, the exterior designs,
we could bring them all back to the period,” says Tierney, who, as a
boy, bought sporting goods at Besse-Clarke.
Today, where baseball mitts were once sold, there’s a light-filled
sitting area whose overstuffed wooden armchairs could have been
plucked from a lakeside camp in Stockbridge. A long communal table
is surrounded by chairs ranging from Modern to vintage tag sale.
the bar area had been renovated by previous owners, but it still had some
secrets to reveal, including the brick arches (right top) that were uncovered
just a month before the hotel’s opening. Public spaces such as the seating area
by the bar (right bottom) are done up in a mix of styles, with an emphasis on
comfort. Architectural details preserved on the facade (left) of the former
department store allow the exterior to maintain its unique personality.