The Horse & Hound was purchased by Ron Homer in December 2010. Operating since 1946, the inn had been owned by seven different families. Fortunately, each owner respected and cared for the building, so little had been done to change its original 1946 architectural integrity. The fireplaces remained, the knotty pine paneling was untouched, and the 82 original 8-over-8 and 8-over-12 weight and pulley windows remained intact. The original mahogany doors and most of the original porcelain bathroom fixtures remained.
However, over the years layers of carpet, vinyl and wallpaper had accumulated on the floors and walls. Some bathrooms had been added in the 1950s with plumbing cutting through joists supporting the second floor. The tavern ceiling (and upstairs hall floor) had sagged to the extent one could see the tavern below as the floor had separated from the walls in the upstairs hallway. Prior owners had attempted to remedy this situation by hanging support beams on the tavern ceiling, with support cables strung up through the second floor walls and attached to the roof rafters. The kitchen floor had a severe deflection caused by inadequate sized floor joists, and water and steam pipes underneath had fractured sending steam and water into the crawl space below. What had originally been a handsome library for the inn had become the tavern with a large bar, jukebox and video screens.
While architecture of the building remained relatively unchanged over the decades, the focus of the business did change as owners attempted to keep the inn profitable. When originally opened in 1946, the inn consisted of a large lobby, library, tavern and restaurant. Over the years the tavern was relocated to the library, and the inn became a less viable part of the business. Eventually the tavern became the primary focus of the property and the restaurant and inn languished.
After Ron purchased the property, the building was closed for a complete restoration of the inn, tavern and restaurant. Beginning in January 2011 they moved to Franconia to reside at the inn during the renovations.
Originally Ron hoped to support the structure in several places and complete cosmetic work on the rest of the building. But once they began living there and learned more about the inn, its history and its pedigree, they began to formulate a much more comprehensive restoration to return the inn to its classic 1940s lodge style.
Under the expert direction of Ron's nephew Rich, a general contractor from Boston, and with the talents of scores of local contractors and craftsman, the structure of the inn was secured in several places, all hardwood floors throughout the entire building were refinished, every room repainted, the bar removed from the library and restored to its original 1946 location, the pine paneling reconditioned and restored, and the library cabinets restored with replicas of the original bookshelves. The kitchen was completely renovated, including restoration of its original 1946 metal cabinetry and 8-foot-long butcher block counters.
Upstairs, the rooms were completely restored with refinished hardwood floors, fresh paint, furniture hand-made in New Hampshire and new mattresses and bedding. New tile floors were laid in the bathrooms and the original porcelain fixtures were refurbished. The renovations were completed with a respect for the classic 1940s style of the inn.
What began as a complex business venture turned into a labor of love. The inn is now fully restored and ready to provide another 65 years of hospitality. The cheerful tavern, gracious dining room, elegant lobby, handsome library/lounge, and restful guest rooms invite you to unwind and relax after an active day in the great outdoors.