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Inn BoonsBoro ready to show renovations

February 13, 2009|By ERIN JULIUS

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BOONSBORO -- The smell of baking oatmeal and brown sugar muffins wafted throughout the first floor of Inn BoonsBoro Friday morning as workers painted a chair rail molding and installed the final touches in a bathroom.

After a seven-month delay caused by a February 2008 fire that severely damaged the building, the inn is set to open its doors to guests Tuesday.

Nora Roberts, inn owner and romance novelist who has lived in the Boonsboro area for more than 30 years, said she used to see what then was an old, rundown inn on the square when she visited town.

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"It deserved better, I thought," said Roberts, who guided the $3 million project.

"I picked out every light, every faucet, every sink," Roberts said Friday as she gave media interviews and tours prior to the inn's official opening. "I knew what I wanted."

The project was "overwhelming" at times, and Roberts said she is ready to get back to work writing eight hours a day.

And for guests to arrive.

"I hope people come here and really have a comfortable, unique experience," she said.

Built around the late 1700s, the building that houses Inn BoonsBoro previously was the Boone Hotel and once was known as the Eagle Hotel.

The inn's renovation was about 60 percent complete when a fire swept through the 1 N. Main St. building on Feb. 22, 2008.

"All we had left were the walls," said Roberts, who pronounced it "amazing" the project was completed within a year.

Original stone wall is featured in the inn's dining room, where breakfast will be served to guests, and in the lobby.

The buildings next door remain shells of what they were before the fire, the bricks still are stained black and construction debris is scattered on the property.

The location of the inn makes it an ideal place for people to stay when they're visiting Antietam National Battlefield or Harpers Ferry, W.Va., as well as for those who "just want to drive in the country," Roberts said.

Seven of the inn's eight bedrooms are themed after literary romantic couples, all of whom had happy endings.

"Who wants a downer?" Roberts said.

The last available bedroom, the Penthouse, is not themed.

One of the rooms is themed after a couple of Roberts' own creation.

"This is about my community," Robert said. "This is not about my fan base."

She emphasized local talent in all aspects of the inn.

Local labor was used, and Bast Furniture provided about 90 percent of the furniture, Roberts said.

"The oldest furniture store in Maryland, right here in Boonsboro," she said.

With the exception of a few of her mother's pieces, the inn's artwork is by local artists, was provided by The Bridge Gallery in Shepherdstown, W.Va., and is for sale, Roberts said.

Roberts wanted to showcase local talent, she said.

Cedar Ridge Soaps in Keedysville created scented shampoos, conditioners and shower gels in keeping with each room's theme, and Mountainside Florist in Boonsboro provides the inn's flowers. The scented amenities are available for purchase across the street at Gifts Inn Boonsboro, which also offers locally made jewelry, pottery, painted art and other crafts.

Bottles found when the property was excavated line a shelf in the inn's rich library, which also houses hundreds of books, some of them Roberts', and an enormous chocolate-colored couch.

With the inn set to open Tuesday, four of the rooms already are booked for that night, said innkeeper Suzanne McErlain, who lives at the inn.

Most of the reservations are made by husbands for their wives who enjoy Roberts' books, McErlain said.

True Nora fans might want to book the Eve and Roarke room, inspired by the couple from the "In Death" novels written by Roberts under the name J.D. Robb.

The book series is set several decades in the future, and the room combines a modern aesthetic with some antique-style furniture.

Roberts showed off one of the room's modern touches -- a black bed with an illuminated headboard. The room's color comes from touches of orange -- the dresser, a blanket, a chair, and otherwise is decorated with sleek metals, clear lucite.

The Titania and Oberon room, based on the couple from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream," is far more fanciful and dreamy. Mint green organza is draped over an iron canopy bed, with copper leaves sprouting from it.

The theme continues into the bathroom -- Roberts said she told the designer which whom she worked, "I want kick-ass bathrooms."

Each room has its own large bathroom complete with a bathtub and heated tile flooring.

A copper tub and sinks grace the Titania and Oberon bathroom. Next to the tub is a wooden step stool. The sinks sit atop counters with legs carved to look like tree limbs.

Only one of the bedrooms, the ADA-compliant suite, is on the first floor. Marguerite and Percy, from "The Scarlet Pimpernel," by Baroness Emmuska Orczy, inspired the room. The bathroom is one of the more opulent, with a fleur-de-lis design on the molding, an iridescent sink with a copper spout and pomegranate-scented shampoo and soaps.

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