WILLIAMSTOWN -- His tory, tradition and perseverance into the future -- themes one is likely to hear about from Carl Faulkner, as his Williams Inn nears its centennial anniversary.
More too, of course, as the owner of the storied Inn has a penchant for stories -- his own and others concerning the inn: its history, clientele and role in the community; its famed former bartender of nearly six decades, Clifton Kemp, and founder L.G. Treadway. And many, many more.
A lot goes on over the course of a century.
Streams of foliage-viewers and travelers from abroad, for in stance, come seeking the genuine Berkshires experience. Ce leb rities, politicians and even a president people the halls, hosts of community events find a home, and in times of trouble, like last year's Tropical Storm Irene, shelter and help are provided.
Faulkner acquired this incarnation of the business in 1979, making it an independent, family-owned operation in 1991.
"If I've been successful, it's because of our employees," Faulkner said. "They do the real work of making the building run, and I'm like a coach."
Originally, the Williams Inn was established by Treadway in 1912 at a former Williams Col lege alumni house, remaining there until 1974. The second, and current building was built on another swath of the college's land at 1090 Main St. that same year.
Faulkner's own story is a sweeping tale: He'll tell you of his early poverty,
During his first trip to the Berk shires in 1977, Faulkner had never even heard of the Williams Inn, and intended to buy the Sheraton in North Adams before car troubles prompted a stop at the old-school Williamstown hangout.
"After seeing [the inn] I told my wife: ‘Forget about the one in North Adams, let's wait for this one ... ‘ " he said.
The rest is a story of maintaining the Inn's timeless qualities of elegance and uniqueness to the area, while making the necessary changes to ensure the business' survival in today's world.
Fortunately, many residents will agree, it has done just that, managing also to adhere to the classical inn model -- put simply by Treadway, who said: "An inn is a great restaurant surrounded by a few rooms."
Faulkner's wife, Marilyn S. Faulkner, sees this as the inn's identity for years to come.
"[In the future] I envision the inn remaining an integral part of the community," she said. "We'll certainly continue striving for that -- to be a place where people come together during some of the most important times of their lives: weddings, funerals, birthdays and anniversaries. ... No matter how many years go by, there's always something new that's happening here."
Many of Mrs. Faulkner's personal favorite experiences over the years -- apart from celebrity visits from the likes of Goldie Hawn, Vincent Price, Paul Newman, John Glenn, George Steinbrenner, Frank Langella, Paul Simon, Anthony Edwards and more -- involve the small windows into patrons' lives they're afforded there.
"We've had people come here celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary who stayed at the old inn when they celebrated their honeymoon," she said.
As many business owners will say, the recent economy has been hard on establishments, and Faulkner agrees that the Williams Inn is no different.
"Business has been changing, but we're hoping it comes back," Faulkner said. "One optimistic sign: North Adams Regional Hospital is back."
Many residents and Williams Inn-regulars share the sentiment. They and the Faulkners hope, as the inn's website says, "history is only the beginning."
To reach Phil Demers, email