The Doylestown Inn is one step closer to a resurrection.
Doylestown Borough Council on Thursday night unanimously approved a request to transfer a new liquor license into town, clearing the way for the inn's new owners to bring it back to life.
On a vote of 8-0, with one person absent, council members gave the stamp of approval to the new owners' plans to reopen the inn. Realtor Todd McCarty and attorney Ron Isgate and their partners plan to reopen the inn's 11 rooms on the third floor and open a new restaurant on the first floor and a bar in the basement.
Council member Joan Doyle said after the hearing at borough hall that she was bowled over by the new owners' attention to detail and vision for the future.
"Their presentation was very professionally done, which reassured us all," Doyle said. "It was a wonderful experience to see such young men joining with the other stakeholders to try to do something to turn the inn back to what it was in yesteryear. It’s very exciting listening to their vision of returning it to its grandeur and making it a centerpiece of the community."
Council president Det Ansinn said he was impressed by the number of town residents who spoke out in favor of the license transfer.
"It was practically a full house, and they all had come out in support" of the plan, Ansinn said. "Bruce Rutherford, of Rutherford's Camera, said that was the place where his parents got engaged.
"We got to hear a great deal of nostalgia of long-time residents who remember the Inn in its better days," Ansinn said, adding that the new owners' research on and deference to the Inn's history helped sway the vote in their favor. "Their respect for the character of the building made it an easy decision."
The buildings that eventually became the Doylestown Inn date to 1871, when Doylestown Borough was home to fewer than 2,000 people. The Inn itself began life about 30 years later and has had a varied, somewhat turbulent, history.
Built in 1902, it was known as Hotel Pollock until 1919. Rudolf G. Hein and Mrs. Hein bought, renovated, refurnished and enlarged the hotel, building its reputation as a destination for dining.
In 1938, the Heins bought the building next to the hotel and built two dining rooms, enlarged the lobby and created modern rooms on the second and third floors. By then, the "Jug-in-the-wall" Bar at the hotel was one of the best-known rendezvous points in Central Bucks.
Mr. and Mrs. Milton Mustin then bought the hotel in February 1956 for around $200,000. But they closed it "without warning" on July 4 of the following year, citing ill health.
The property changed hands at least seven more times over the intervening decades before Michael Welch bought it in 1998 for about $600,000.
Welch reopened the Doylestown Inn in 2001 after a substantial renovation but by 2011, the Inn and its owners once again were in financial trouble.
Univest National Bank & Trust foreclosed on the property in August, after being owed $2.9 million by the previous owner, Deauville V L.P. The property was listed for Sheriff's sale in August, but no one stepped up with an acceptable bid. Univest took possession of the property, keeping the office tenants but closing the Inn section.
Isgate and McCarty bought the property on Dec. 28.
Isgate said they hope to move forward immediately with their plans and hope to have the bar open by March or April.
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