The Mountain Times

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Glimmerstone Mansion is back

One of Cavendish's architectural treasures is coming back to life.

New owners John and Mary Jane Abbate are renovating the historic Glimmerstone Mansion as a luxury bed and breakfast, with fine dining and a pub. The barn is also being prepared for community use.

After years in Connecticut, Mary Jane Abbate said she and her husband were ready for a new life as innkeepers. They acquired the 1845 building at a public auction in October 2010.

"My husband has worked in fire prevention for commercial buildings, and he has a plumber's license," she said. "I've always done a lot of cooking, and interior design. I've always worked in restaurants. One day, my husband said, 'You've helped me, so now it's your turn.' So I trained as a chef at the Lincoln Culinary Institute. Then we started looking for a potential B&B. We love historic buildings. When we found this, it was perfect."

Abbate is a member of the American Culinary Federation, and she said that all chefs working at the Inn at Glimmerstone Mansion would also be members. She added that she is talking about a partnership with the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, using the mansion's up-to-date kitchen for teaching the hospitality business to interns.

There will be both a restaurant and a pub, which Abbata hopes to open in February or March.

"The food will be local, fresh, and seasonal," Abbate said. "Whatever comes from the farm."

Not that the menu will comprise nothing but exotic fare.

"I don't want anyone saying, 'I don't know what that is,'" Abbate said. "Pheasant with chutney, for instance, and we'll have fresh pastas. Or stuffed zucchini blossoms. We're not looking to go so far out on food that we start putting people off."

The pub will feature regular pub food, like freshly ground burgers.

"We use Black Watch Farm in Weathersfield," Abbate said. "The owner was a contractor who showed cows, and he found he loved it. He rediscovered grass-fed beef."

The barn is intended to be a community venue, Abbate said. Renovations should be complete for sometime next year. The barn will be available for events and parties.

"We've really been getting to know a lot of people. It's wonderful to have such great subcontractors. Every one we selected seems to love the property," Abbate said.

One thing that won't be happening, though, is bottled water. Previous owner Tim Jefferson had applied for an Act 250 permit to install a bottling facility for the purpose of selling Glimmerstone's spring water.

"I was shocked when I heard that," Abbate said. "The Environmental Commission called to see if we wanted to go ahead with the application, and we withdrew it immediately. Whenever we talked with the previous owner, he never mentioned it."

The furnishings are also getting an overhaul; Abbate said she wants a mid-19th century atmosphere, and has even gone back to drawings in Andrew Jackson Downing's 1842 book, "Cottage Residences," on which the mansion's final design was based. The Glimmerstone Mansion is on the National Register of Historic Places, due to its unique architectural design. That means any work done requires consultation with the U.S. Department of the Interior.

"Everything has to be done through the Department of the Interior," Abbate said, "but there are tax incentives. We have pieces going back to 1840 here."

Another bonus: the original fountain has been discovered and excavated. Abbate said she plans to revive it.

The Abbate family is already accepting guests. Much more information, including the inn's history, can be found at the Website, www.glimmerstonemansion.com.

Tagged: Cavendish, glimmerstone mansion