Milford house

Milford House lodge reopens after being rebuilt after fire

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It was one of those moments – in a long year for Milford House general manager Val Richard – when the new joists and drywall, fresh paint and floors, finally started to feel like the House.

At the end of June, a handful of workers climbed abandoned scaffolding and mounted a canoe, the “icon” of the dining room, exactly where it was hung in the old building.

Last weekend, the resort’s new wilderness lodge opened to the public, the building painstakingly rebuilt following a fire in May 2014 that reduced the old lodge to ashes.

“If you blink and stop thinking about the fire, you almost think it never happened,” says Richard.

This is because the new building looks a lot like the old one. The architect is the same, as is the floor plan, except for a 2.4 meter extension to the kitchen.

Over the winter, Richard and other Milford House supporters fished “here and there” for furniture and antiques that matched as closely as possible to what came before.

They wanted, she said, to revive the old vibe.

“Different people have mentioned that it looks so much like the inside of the other lodge that it’s almost strange,” says Richard.

The lodge has a restaurant, reception, library and a new conference room upstairs. Guests stay in cabins nearby.

The history of the place dates back to 1860 when Mary and Abraham Thomas settled in the area and built a log cabin. It quickly became a stopping point for stagecoaches traveling between Annapolis Royal and Caledonia. A farm was then built and became a summer hotel.

The new building is in fact the third lodge on the site. The first caught fire in 2000 and a replica was built to replace it.

The rebuild this time cost more than a million dollars, says Richard. Most of it was covered by insurance. There was also fundraising, and Richard says some of the money will come from the provincial government.

Fire raged through the old lodge on May 18, 2014. The fire marshal conducted a thorough investigation, says Richard, but ultimately couldn’t figure out how it started.

“There was nothing left to investigate,” she said. “It was just a pile of ashes.”

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