The William Henry Miller Inn in downtown Ithaca has officially been sold to its new owner, Amy Fuhr of Ithaca.
The property sold for $1.147 million, passing from Lynnette Scofield to Fuhr and a fellow business partner, Chris Anderson. Fuhr used to work for the Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce and Anderson is a faculty member at the Hotel Administration and Hospitality Management school at Cornell University. Fuhr said the sale had been agreed upon late last year but could just recently become official because of various small delays.
Although the gut reaction from Ithacans might be nervousness at the famous old inn changing hands, rest easy. Fuhr and Anderson have no plans to make any sweeping changes to the inn's operations. Anderson said they would likely take the first several months to smooth out any kinks in the business, then look to make some minor changes to improve the building—things like capital improvements, interior tweaks like new wallpaper, etc. The building has been historically designated, so exterior changes are difficult to accomplish and would have to be approved by the Ithaca Landmarks Preservation Commission.
Fuhr said she's lived down the street for years, walking by and admiring the building on a regular basis. Then, after moving on from her old job, she was inspired to jump into the hotel business when she saw the inn, located at 303 N. Aurora St., was up for sale. Scofield sold to Fuhr and Anderson despite interest from far and wide, including from overseas in owning the property.
"I'd been thinking about a career change, because I've been doing things where you just sit all day," Fuhr said. "And I wanted to work for myself, totally, again. Then I saw the article that it was for sale, and I joked with [Scofield] that I wanted to buy it. But then I started really thinking about it, and I decided that's what I really wanted to do."
Fuhr said she's never owned an inn before, but that she does have experience with hospitality and food service, having run a pizza shop and German-style deli years back. She and Anderson met through a mutual friend before deciding to go into business together.
"It's a natural fit with Amy," Anderson said. "She can do all the parts after the people get here, and I can do all the parts before they get here. We're really excited. Lynnette has obviously built a great business and we just want to do a few tweaks here and there."
Fuhr agreed, emphasizing that Scofield's business, and her help and patience during the sale process, had also helped to ease the transition until Fuhr finally was able to take over last week.
"We knew Lynnette was running a successful business, and it's basically a turn-key operation," Fuhr said. "If we just came in and did what she was doing, with Chris' expertise and doing a little bit more marketing and increasing our occupancy, everything was going to be fine."