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Boone Hotel renovations getting back on track in Boonsboro

June 30, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

BOONSBORO - An innkeeper has been hired to oversee the historic Boone Hotel in Boonsboro and co-owner Bruce Wilder says he expects the business to open this year.

A fire tore through the building in February, nearly destroying the structure, and damaging six other Main Street buildings. Wilder said Friday that renovations to the Boone Hotel are at about the same stage they were before the fire.

Wilder co-owns the hotel with his wife, romance novelist and longtime Washington County resident, Nora Roberts. The couple was in the midst of renovating the historic structure as an inn before the February blaze.

With less of the original structure to salvage this time around, Wilder said the work has been completed at a faster pace.

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The frame of the building is "coming along," he said, and the roof is almost complete. Work on the interior walls and plumbing also is under way.

"We're getting back to the track where we were before the fire," Wilder said. "About another week or two and we'll be back to where we were."

While working at his bookstore, Turn the Page in Boonsboro, he said he is able to watch progress being made on the inn, which is across the street.

"It's exciting to see," he said.

Wilder said the couple's plans for restoring the hotel were unchanged after the fire and they still intend to rebuild the front porch on the structure.

"The double porch will still be part of the plan," he said.

Less-visible progress also is being made. Wilder said an innkeeper has been hired to oversee the inn, and they are discussing what furniture to purchase.

The innkeeper, Suzanne McErian, from Pennsylvania, is working at Turn the Page until she can begin working full time at the inn.

"It's going to be a very nice place," Wilder said of the restored hotel.

State aid

Officials from the Maryland Governor's Office of Community Initiatives, Department of Planning Historical Trust and the Department of Housing and Community Development recently surveyed recovery efforts in Boonsboro, according to a press release.

State officials were given a tour of the area to view ongoing reconstruction efforts. The Boone Hotel was among those buildings visited by the group.

Business owners are committed to a quick recovery and are appreciative of state services being offered, according to the release.

After the tour, a meeting was held to discuss state services and program opportunities that are available for the town and its local businesses. These included the DHCD's Community Legacy program, the Main Street Maryland program and Local Government Infrastructure Financing bond programs, according to the press release.

A representative from the State Highway Administration also was there to discuss programs offered by the agency that Boonsboro's elected officials might want to consider. Those programs include the retrofit sidewalk program, community safety and conservation, as well as transportation enhancement.

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