The remains of the Tisbury Inn will be razed in the weeks ahead. An Island contractor, Dale McClure of Watercourse Construction, met with innkeepers Sherman and Susan Goldstein of West Tisbury for three hours on Wednesday to discuss the process.
Architect David Galler, principal of Prellwitz/Chininski Associates of Cambridge, toured the basement with the three carrying paper renderings of the old building. The owners of the inn hope demolition will begin in the first week of February and be completed by Feb. 18. The whole building is coming down, though there are still discussions under way about taking down the portion which contains the swimming pool.
Mr. and Mrs. Goldstein were on one leg of a 16-hour work session with the architect to talk about a future inn that will recall the original 1884 building, but one without the hodgepodge quality of the building that burned. The Tisbury Inn was destroyed in a late night fire on Saturday, Dec. 15. It took fire departments from all three down-Island towns all night and Sunday morning to control the fire.
Mr. Goldstein said yesterday that he and his wife envision a clapboard building with porches, very much in keeping with the architecture of the town. Mr. Goldstein said there will be two phases to the project. The first will be to demolish the old building and put in a new foundation. "The first phase is to recreate basement space that you can't see on Main street but is visible on Beach Road. The floor in the basement will be deepened so that the ceilings will be heightened," he said. As part of this project, he said, the health club will be expanded.
Mrs. Goldstein said emphasis will be placed on getting the two-year-old Zephrus restaurant, the part of the complex least impacted by the fire, back into operation for the new season. Mrs. Goldstein said bathrooms for the restaurant will need to be in order before it opens. "The bathrooms are within the fault line of what needs to be taken down," she said.
A temporary wood fence will be erected around the building as the demolition work begins. Mr. Goldstein said: "We want to put up a fence that is attractive enough, to block the site and to make sure it is visually appealing. That will go up in the weeks ahead."
The actual construction of the inn, the second phase of the project, will begin Oct. 1. Mr. Goldstein said he and his wife are sensitive to the idea that construction could disrupt traffic flow in the summer, thus they've chosen to delay. They hope to begin construction of the inn after this summer and have it completed and ready for the start of the summer of 2003.
Immediate issues facing the Goldsteins involve coming up with a better inn, health center and swimming pool within the limits of their financial plan. The two are looking at whether the present pool building should be taken down to make way for a new and larger pool. "We are being forced to look at the whole building," Mrs. Goldstein said.
On Wednesday, as the couple walked through the old building, both were visibly shaken by the extent of the damage. Mr. Goldstein said he has extreme mood swings. On one side he sees the loss, but on the positive side he sees enormous possibilities.
While there is no dollar value attached to the loss by fire, Mr. Goldstein said the inn employed 75 people and had an annual payroll of $900,000. "Between the town, the state and federal government taxes, the payroll taxes, meal taxes, room taxes and real estate taxes, the loss is at least $166,000 per year."
The speed with which a new building will be built depends in part upon help from the community. Last week the Goldsteins met with Cong. Bill Delahunt. They have many meetings ahead with town officials and town boards and forms to fill out with federal and state agencies and local banks. "This is a multi-million-dollar project," Mr. Goldstein said.
Mr. Goldstein said Mr. McClure is familiar with the inn and is thus the appropriate person to help in the demolition and excavation work. Mr. Goldstein said: "Dale spent a lot of time in the early part of his career digging the foundation for Walter Woods." He did work on the pool and the septic system.
On a walk through on Wednesday, the old inn hallways were littered with debris. The ceiling in many places had given way. During the fire, walls and floors collapsed. The air within the inn was still dank, smelling of charcoal. Because of huge holes in the ceiling, rainwater had seeped in. In the inn basement a crew of insurance subrogators were examining the source of the blaze that brought the inn down. A photographer took close up pictures of the oil-fired hot water heater exhaust pipe where fire officials determined that the blaze had begun.
From Wednesday through yesterday morning, the Goldsteins spent hours with their architect talking about the future building. Mr. Galler has known the inn for three years, having designed the restaurant. The temporary office was set up there within days after the fire.