Historic Boonsboro hotel building on track to be rebuilt by Christmas

May 08, 2008|By HEATHER KEELS

BOONSBORO -- With the masonry almost finished and the framing begun, the historic Boone Hotel in Boonsboro is on track to be rebuilt by Christmas, co-owner Bruce Wilder said this week.

"We're very happy with the progress," said Wilder, who co-owns the hotel with his wife, author Nora Roberts. "As soon as we got the permit, we started in there working."

Wilder and Roberts were in the process of renovating the hotel in February, when the building was gutted by a four-alarm fire that started when a liquid propane tank was knocked over by construction workers.

After learning the stone walls would not have to be razed, the owners announced they planned to rebuild the hotel and continue with plans to reopen it as a romance-themed inn.


More than two months later, progress is visible from behind the hotel's plywood wrapping and scaffolding. Fresh concrete blocks fill out holes in the walls and new wooden beams extend from the third story.

"Compared to what it was, it has had a lot of work done on it," said Ashley Sanders, an employee at the neighboring Subway restaurant.

Boonsboro Mayor Charles F. "Skip" Kauffman Jr. said the progress is encouraging.

"I'm very impressed with how things are going there so far," he said. "I feel really confident it will continue that way."

Wilder said two crews have been working on repointing the masonry and the framing work is being done right behind the masonry. In addition, new windows have been ordered and will be installed soon, he said.

The owners believe Christmas is a realistic goal for completion, barring any stretches of bad weather or other complications, Wilder said.

"If things go as smoothly as they are... we might be able to do that," he said.

The hotel will be rebuilt exactly as it was before the fire because major changes would stretch out the permit process, Wilder said. This way, the owners only needed to revise their renovation permits to include the roof, porch and other elements destroyed in the fire, he said.

He said the property was well-insured, so the owners have not had to rely on the state and federal aid offered after the fire.

Boonsboro Town Manager Debra Smith said owners of most of the other Main Street buildings damaged in the fire have also filed insurance claims, with mixed levels of success.

The owner of the former Asaro's Pizza at 4 N. Main St., on the corner of the square, is having trouble with that building's insurance because of another recent fire, Smith said.

The owner of a property beside the hotel that was destroyed has not decided yet whether to rebuild, she said.

The three residents displaced by the fire have relocated with help from donations, Smith said. One is still in Boonsboro, another went to Hagerstown and a third moved to Georgia, she said.

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