North Adams Transcript
NORTH ADAMS -- Nancy Fitzpatrick of Stockbridge has bought the historic Wigwam Cottages at the western summit of the Mohawk Trail (Route 2) and plans to restore them and link them with the Porches Inn downtown to create a new destination for travelers -- as well as a nostalgic look back to the forgotten era of automobile touring.
Fitzpatrick, with the limited liability company LMNO Properties, bought the 3.88-acre site, which includes a house and a gift shop, from the Berkshire Natural Resources Council for $275,000 on Friday, according to documents at the Northern Berkshire Registry of Deeds in Adams.
The council has been marketing the Wigwam site since April last year, when it bought the property and about 730 acres of abutting land for $470,000 to launch the three-mile-long Hoosac Range Trail for hikers and cross country skiers, and to plan a much larger, 100-mile trail system to be known as the Mahican-Mohawk Trail.
"We’re thrilled that Nancy has stepped in," Tad Ames, president of the natural resources council, said Sunday. "She’s got the vision and the track record to really revitalize this landmark spot and create something there that’s going to be a great material addition for the future of North Adams."
He added, "We always hoped to have a neighbor there who loved the Berkshires, loved the Mohawk Trail and had sympathy for conservation and how human culture and natural culture intersect. All of our hopes for this site are coming true."
Fitzpatrick is owner of The Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge and was co-developer, with Williams College alumnus Jack Wadsworth, of The Porches Inn at Mass MoCA.
According to a news release about the Wigwam sale, Fitzpatrick is interested in American road tripping and the hotels and motels that were built during the development of the U.S. highway system. The Wigwam site opened in 1930, during a time when leisurely auto touring along the Mohawk Trail was very popular with vacationers to New England.
"I’d been eyeballing the cabins longingly for years," Fitzpatrick said in the news release. "I hated the thought that they might disappear. This style of roadside architecture, from the early days of automobile travel, is underappreciated and endangered. I can’t wait to get going on this project."
She said she hopes to re-open the cabins and guest house next spring, when the new trail is also expected to be completed, and to run them seasonally.
Guests of the Wigwam will have full use of all amenities at The Porches, including the hotel’s year-round pool, hot tub and exercise facilities. The Wigwam site will be renovated with each cabin or guest room offering a private bath and shower. The cabins will feature comfortable furnishings, wood stoves, refrigerators and coffee-making facilities, according to the news release.
Fitzpatrick said the mountain-top location will be the perfect venue for small family reunions, social gatherings and corporate retreats.
Bruce Finn, general manager of the Porches and The Red Lion Inn, said the property will be operated from the Porches.
"The Wigwam will capture the imagination and spirit of adventure of its guests by recalling the nostalgia of bygone days of motor-touring on Route 2," he said in the news release. "Guests will enjoy breathtaking views from their rustic cabin settings, with easy access to all there is to do in the area."
Located about eight-tenths of a mile up the Mohawk Trail from the Hairpin Turn, the Wigwam site offers a view of Mount Greylock and the entire city of North Adams to the west.
John Morris, owner of the Golden Eagle Restaurant at the Hairpin Turn, said Sunday that he expects the sale will provide a boost not only to his business but also to the Mohawk Trail, where many businesses have struggled or closed over the past two decades.
"I’m hoping they’ll fix up the property and turn it into a quality place like The Red Lion Inn and The Porches," Morris said. "I think it will be good for business in general. People are starting to get in tune with nature -- look at Sheep Hill and what the Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation has done there. I think it’s the wave of the future."
Ames said the purchase by Fitzpatrick gave the natural resources council the best of all possible worlds.
"This was part of a strategic decision we made to advance our conservation efforts, and at the same time it turns out to open up a new chapter in the Wigwam’s history," he said.