At last Amherst is to have an inn. The project, carefully matured by alumni committees for more than a dozen years past, has now reached the stage of realization. The necessary financial backing has been secured, contract have been let, ground broken, and the finished structure is to be ready for use next Commencement.
— Amherst Graduates’ Quarterly. Vol. XV, No. 1. November 1925
With the re-opening of the refurbished Lord Jeffery Inn, Amherst once again has an inn. The need for a conveniently located inn to serve the needs of the college was felt very early in the twentieth century, but it was only when Ernest M. Whitcomb (AC 1904) took the lead and formed a committee of like-minded alumni that the first incarnation of the Inn came into being. The earliest correspondence about the Inn in our Buildings & Grounds collection is a series of letters between Whitcomb and George A. Plimpton dating from 1911. Letters in the collection refer to sketches and plans for the Inn as early as 1913. Prior to the founding of this committee, two plots of land had been secured through the generosity of alumni — the Boltwood Avenue plot where the Inn stands today, and another parcel of land known as the Mount Doma property.
In 1921 the Inn Committee sent out a brochure to generate interest among the alumni. It featured an illustration of what the finished Inn would look like and declared “Complete plans have been prepared by Putnam & Cox, Boston”. Whitcomb organized the Amherst Inn Company and raised money through the sale of common stock to alumni and townspeople.
The total cost of the Inn was $378,790.22 and construction began in 1925 and it opened for business on June 3, 1926. The opening of the Inn was publicized with a small booklet of photographs:
Interest in the Inn extended beyond the immediate Amherst College community. The Inn was featured in an article in the July 5, 1928 issue of The American Architect which noted its “informal homelike quality.”
The Lord Jeff hosted many illustrious guests since 1926. Robert Frost frequently stayed at the Inn after he had sold his house in Amherst. In 1954 it was the site of a gala celebration for Frost’s 80th birthday, and his stays at the Inn are commemorated with a plaque and volumes of poetry on the new shelves.
I was lucky enough to stay at the Lord Jeffery Inn when I came to campus for my job interview in early October 2008. It closed for renovations shortly after that, and has at last emerged as a renewed and inviting space.