Some homes and buildings have an incredible backstory. Some boast a cast of tirelessly dedicated owners or renovators, or dramatic before-and-after transformations. Still others have an inimitable cool factor, a woke-up-this-way ease that makes us want to kick off our shoes, sink into a cozy sofa or chair, and enjoy the scenery. Hotel on North, the new boutique hotel in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, just around the corner from our headquarters, has all of these and more.
Hotel on North, owned by Laurie and David Tierney and managed by Main Street Hospitality, is the latest iteration of a pair of beloved Victorian-era buildings on the National Register of Historic Places and almost smack in the middle of the city’s downtown. The building’s best-known previous life was as menswear and sporting-goods department store Besse-Clarke, which folded in 1994, and later housed several restaurants before going back on the market a few years ago. When the Tierneys purchased the buildings, they knew they wanted to pay homage to their past by preserving its original exposed brick walls, tin ceilings, and decorative columns. But how to modernize while maintaining the vintage New England ambience?
They brought in a killer creative team, including architect Karen Hunt, hotelier Nancy Fitzpatrick (owner of the historic Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge), and marketing and design expert Sarah Eustis (also CEO of Main Street Hospitality), to bring their ideas to life. One concept, as Sarah explains, ruled the design and decorating process: “We wanted the building to speak—we wanted to honor the industrial, late-1800s masculine and muscular features,” she says.
The design team started by paring down the interior to its vintage tin ceilings and original wood floors and beams. For the rooms, they painted the brick walls a neutral, creamy ivory, and chose furniture—desks, chairs, and entertainment consoles, and accent tables—in a mix of natural wood tones.
Color and texture were added mostly via textiles. In particular, four Dash & Albert wool area rugs provided the jumping-off point for soothing color palettes. In a nod to the building’s Victorian roots and to the “luxurious and roughed-up” appeal of the SoHo House in New York City, the designers chose soft velvets in complemetary hues for the upholstered headboards and armchairs.
With the foundations in place, the design team mixed in a variety of unusual furniture and décor selections—a pair of folding theater seats placed at the ends of two beds; a long, heavyweight oak plank bench; collections of old family photos and botanical drawings—and offset them with midcentury pieces, like sleek side tables and Sputnik chandeliers. Accessories were kept to a minimum, to give the rooms a clean, minimalist feel and to highlight the antique and vintage pieces. “It’s not slick and polished—that’s not Pittsfield,” Sarah says. “We wanted a blend of vintage and contemporary, a mix of things that have a patina with things that are new, scrumptious, and comfortable. We love beautiful old pieces, upcycled pieces, that can come to life again.”
Here are a couple incredible before-and-after shots:
Beyond the simply yet beautifully appointed rooms, Hotel on North boasts a stunning reception area with a changing fine art display (currently on the gallery walls: Berkshire artist Eric Korenman, curated by another of our local favorites, Sohn Fine Art). There’s a floor-to-ceiling, light-filled interior atrium, plus a knock-your-socks-off library that could be a mashup of setting from a Sherlock Holmes novel and a smoking club on Mad Men. All have been designed to marry the quirky and antique with the sleek and contemporary, with many pieces made locally; Hotel on North even dedicates an entire page of their website to these collaborations.
And let’s not forget Hotel on North’s gift shop, the upscale yet affordable Dory and Ginger; the local-foods-focused restaurant, Eat on North; or the bar, Drink on North, where, on a summer evening, you can sip classic cocktails or craft beers with friends, and find the likes of renowned composer John Williams at one end of the bar and a trio of Hells Angels at the other. We couldn’t have summed up the Berkshire experience better ourselves. So instead we’ll just say this: The next time you’re visiting the Berkshires, head to Hotel on North for a one-of-kind stay.