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    Thursday, June 20, 2024

    New owner targeting summer debut for Captain’s Mansion

    Walter “Sonny” Glaser, owner, left, and Celia Santos, innkeeper, stand in the Spicer parlor Thursday, March 30, 2023, while they talk about the plan to lightly sand and refinish the wood parquet floor. The work on the floor and fireplace, not shown, are some of the projects that they are working on before opening Captain’s Mansion in Mystic. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Walter “Sonny” Glaser, owner, stands under a bonnet ceiling with a wall painted Upward blue, the color they have used in all the bathrooms,Thursday, March 30, 2023, while he talks about the placement of a bathroom vanity in the Great Escape Suite. Glaser was showing the work he has done since purchasing Captain’s Mansion in Mystic. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Walter “Sonny” Glaser, owner, right, stands in the 1853 parlor and talks about having painted the walls a brighter yellow, but leaving the rest of the original paintings while he and Celia Santos, innkeeper, show the work that has been done since purchasing Captain’s Mansion in Mystic. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Then Captain’s Mansion in Mystic as it appears on Thursday, March 30, 2023. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Mystic ― A fresh start for the boutique hotel formerly known as Spicer Mansion is in the works.

    Walter “Sonny” Glaser, the property’s new owner, said Thursday he’s planning to reopen it this summer. He’s going to call it Captain’s Mansion.

    “Well, he was a captain,” Glaser said of Elihu Spicer, the hotel’s former namesake, who once called the 1853 structure his home. Across West Mystic’s Elm Street, Spicer built the Mystic & Noank Library.

    But the hotel’s “Spicer” name is no more, consigned to a history that over the last year had grown fraught. In foreclosure, the building had twice been auctioned ― with Glaser bidding each time ― and the disposal of its contents had gotten caught up in bankruptcy proceedings.

    Only last week, a U.S. bankruptcy judge had approved Glaser’s $100,000 purchase of more than 200 items ranging from chairs, tables and drapes to walk-in freezers, bed frames and mattresses. The court-sanctioned sale came three months after the hotel’s previous owner, Brian Gates, had held an unauthorized “estate sale” of the personal property.

    Bankruptcy court officials ordered the return of everything Gates had sold.

    Glaser closed Dec. 30 on his $3,050,000 purchase of the hotel, and has been working on the property ever since. On Thursday, about eight weeks out from hip surgery, the 55-year-old, self-described “detail kind of guy” and his innkeeper, Celia Santos, walked a reporter and a photographer through the three-story hotel’s eight rooms, seven of which are suites.

    The rooms have such names as “Ocean Pearl Suite,” “Seaport Suite,” “Bascule Bridge Suite,” and “Great Escape,” the last a nod to family history. It was the name of Glaser’s father’s boat.

    Every room’s getting a fresh coat of paint, the shades ranging from bright yellow in a parlor to “celery salt” green in one of the bedrooms to “upward” blue in a bathroom. The hardwood floors, some the same vintage as the 170-year-old mansion, are being sanded and refinished. Fireplaces are being retiled.

    New artwork, most of it still under wraps, features paintings by Russ Kramer, a renowned artist with a gallery on West Main Street in Mystic.

    “I want to preserve it for the next 100 years,” Glaser said of the historic property. “I do a lot of my own work. I have a great team of people, mostly my own employees, but some things needed to be jobbed out.”

    A businessman with residences in Mystic and Greenwich, Glaser bought up a good chunk of downtown Mystic real estate in 2019, including some West Main Street buildings, including the one where Kramer’s gallery is located, and the Steamboat Inn, an 11-room boutique hotel overlooking the Mystic River. He said he has since acquired some more buildings.

    Originally from New Jersey, he “grew up on boats,” he said, spending many summers in Mystic. After college, he worked for a company his grandfather helped found in 1927 that supplied parts to elevator manufacturers. He also developed an interest in restoring old homes.

    He bought a five-family house in Greenwich, restored it and sold it.

    In running Captain’s Mansion, Glaser said, “We’re going to follow things to a tee.”

    That means he intends to avoid the zoning issues his predecessor had with Groton officials. He said he will not operate a restaurant or bar on the premises and will not host weddings or other events there.

    A couple of weeks ago, he hosted a “meet and greet” with his neighbors, including Mystic & Noank Library staff.

    “We want to run this the way we run Steamboat,” he said. “We’ll serve breakfast made to order, but that’s all.”

    Where his highly leveraged predecessor ran into trouble, Glaser is confident of operating Captain’s Mansion successfully.

    “I know exactly what we do down there (at Steamboat Inn) in a year,” he said. “I know I can make it there with 11 rooms. We’re doing fantastic. Pricing here will be slightly higher ― it’s going to be a little more high end.”

    In a bit of irony, given Glaser’s background, Captain’s Mansion has only the remnants of one of Connecticut’s first elevators, which he intends to frame and illuminate ― and tell its story.

    “There’s a story behind everything here,” he said.

    b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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