by Kate Nixon
The Roycroft Inn has a new owner in Washington developer and noted preservationist Douglas Jemal. Jemal has agreed to buy the Roycroft Inn and restaurant, taking over for the Margaret L. Wendt Foundation which has owned the Inn for more than 35 years. Jemal will add the Roycroft Inn and restaurant to its impressive portfolio of historic sites, that include 28 historic office buildings and hotels spread across the NorthEast. Fortunately, the current management team at the Roycroft Inn, having met with him in person, is incredibly positive about the new acquisition and with Jemal himself.
“Things couldn’t be more positive around here,” said Roycroft Inn Manager Daniel Garvey. In a conversation with ArtsandCraftsCollector.com, Garvey was sure to note Jemal’s experience and dedication to historic preservation as an indication of great things to come. “[Jemal]’s adopted Western New York as his new home and investing heavily in local architectural gems. We couldn’t be more thrilled with his portfolio of historic sites.”
In 1905, The Inn opened across the street from the Roycroft Campus in East Aurora, NY, to enthusiasts of the Arts and Crafts movement and those looking to be surrounded by its style. In addition to receiving National Historic Landmark status more than eighty years later in 1986, the Inn underwent an $8 million restoration initiative over a nine year period which resulted in the Inn re-opening in 1995.
In terms of what changes for the Roycroft Inn are on the horizon, there does not seem to be an official schedule or agenda on renovation just yet. Garvey says of the renovation plans: “There’s nothing that has ruined the integrity of the building,” says Garvey. “There are some spots that probably need repainting and some carpets need to be replaced. After 30 years of people in a hotel, there are typical wear down in some spots.” When historic preservation is key these days especially within cities with a heavy Arts and Crafts legacy, Jemal’s own experience with preservation was instrumental in cementing the deal. “His promise is to maintain the historic legacy of the Roycroft Inn and we’re going to hold him accountable to it.”
Douglas Jemal told local ABC News affiliate WKBW he feels he’s got more of a stewardship role while current managers will continue as usual. “Running it with the same team they have there, they have a great management team. I am just moving forward. Just babysitting and taking care of it, you know, stewardship,” said Jemal. “The Margaret Wendt Foundation bought it, saved it, and they never really intended to own it forever and run it. Their objective was to save the masterpiece that it was, and what it stood for. They’ve done a masterful job. It was time for them to move on.”
“The Foundation is excited for the Inn’s future with Douglas Development. They have the same mission to preserve the legacy of this historic landmark that the Margaret L. Wendt Foundation and other community members and organizations have had during the 30 years we have been honored caretakers of the property.” -The Margaret L. Wendt Foundation
In a statement from the Margaret L. Wendt Foundation, the organization confirmed their recent purchase and their confidence in Douglas Development. “We [The Margaret L. Wendt Foundation] are under contract with Douglas Development to purchase the Roycroft Inn, Chapel and related parcel that the Foundation owns at 461 Main Street. The Foundation is excited for the Inn’s future with Douglas Development. They have the same mission to preserve the legacy of this historic landmark that the Margaret L. Wendt Foundation and other community members and organizations have had during the 30 years we have been honored caretakers of the property. Running an Inn is not the Foundation’s core mission, and this allows us to bring funding spent on maintenance and operation of the Inn back into the assets of the Foundation, which will in turn be distributed back out to the Western New York community through the Foundation’s grant efforts.”
This week, Garvey was able to meet with developer Jemal and give him a tour of the inn and restaurant. Afterwards, Garvey confirmed that he was indeed “very happy about [Jemal’s] commitment to maintaining the historic legacy.”