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New London shows off historic inn, seeking potential buyer

New London - Touring the Lighthouse Inn on Wednesday morning, real estate agent Kathy Matyas said she could see potential in the more-than-100-year-old Guthrie Place property, which has been vacant for nearly six years.

"It's a shame," said Matyas, who lives in New London. "There aren't many of these places left."

The city, which currently owns the property, has invited developers to bid on the landmark inn, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The city has set the minimum acceptable bid at $500,000.

Matyas, a sales associate for William Pitt Sotheby's International Realty, said she had a client who might be interested.

"Everything is here; it has the beds, all the kitchen equipment, an alarm system that works," she said. "It needs a lot of window replacements, but this could be a really good thing for him."

The 1902 inn, which closed to the public in 2008, was once a cherished dining spot and drinking establishment and, most recently, a resort. Its three buildings - the mansion, a beauty salon and a carriage house - comprise about 32,922 square feet of living space and 51 guest rooms.

The inn has been largely untouched since it was vacated in October 2008. On Wednesday, it was still decorated for Christmas with a fake fir tree assembled in the main dining room. Most of the guest beds were neatly made and the barroom taps were still connected to partially-full beer kegs in the basement.

Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio has been pushing to get the inn, which has an assessed value of $3,076,920, back on the city's tax rolls. As a condition of the sale, the property must remain taxable regardless of the buyer.

The city took title to the historic property last year after a tax auction failed to elicit a single bid at the minimum price of roughly $577,000. It has invested $67,800 to clean up and repair the inn.

"We've cleaned it up quite a lot because they pretty much shut the door and locked it in October 2008," said Ned Hammond, the city's economic development coordinator.

On Wednesday, Hammond led the third and final walkthrough of the inn and its grounds. Twelve to 15 potential buyers have toured the property, he said, and there is "definitely some interest."

Sealed bids for the inn must be submitted to the city by 2 p.m. on May 28. They will be opened later that afternoon.


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