by Daniel Shaw
Tuesday Jan 22, 2013
“I wanted people who are allergic to wallpaper to feel welcome at the Red Lion Inn,” owner Nancy Fitzpatrick says with mischievous glee. She is talking about the 17 new rooms that the landmark hotel (circa 1773) has just added, which have been rigorously designed (and painted not papered!) to appeal to a demanding, luxury-oriented clientele. But they’re also idiosyncratic, reflecting the inn’s eclectic history and the quirky aesthetics of the owner herself. “I wanted the rooms to have a bohemian quality yet feel totally contemporary,” she says.
Fitzpatrick – a Smith College graduate, Peace Corps alumna, Boston Symphony Orchestra trustee and Tanglewood habitué – has put her history, heart and soul into the new Maple Glen building on the Red Lion’s campus, which is a village within the village of Stockbridge.
“I did a lot of shopping on eBay, and I got a lot of inspiration from Pinterest,” says Fitzpatrick, who decorated each room individually with help from her in-house design team led by Carla Child. “I bought a lot of the artwork on my regular rounds at flea markets and we did a run to Brimfield last summer. I was very clear in my mind about what I wanted to do. I wanted offbeat colors. I did not want this to be wimpy.”
As the daughter of Jane and Jack Fitzpatrick, the legendary couple who founded Country Curtains in 1956 and rescued the Red Lion from the wrecking ball in 1968, she has respect for tradition even though she’s an iconoclast, too. A decade ago, when she realized that North Adams needed a first-rate place for MASS MoCA visitors to stay, she created Porches, which has the charm of a New England bed-and-breakfast but the service and amenities of a top-flight boutique hotel.
“Maple Glen is really a cross between the style of Porches and the Red Lion,” says Fitzpatrick, who allows that she wasn’t planning on expanding the Red Lion, but her hand was forced when the old sweater shop property adjacent to the inn (on the corner of Route 7 and Maple Street) was put on the market. “We hemmed and hawed, but we didn’t want anyone else to buy it. We did a business plan that justified the investment and we got a small business loan through Lee Bank.”
Fitzpatrick, the former chair of the Berkshire Creative Economy Council (now known as Berkshire Creative), made Maple Glen a local stimulus project. “We hired architect Pam Sandler because she is a Stockbridge person and drives by that corner every day,” says Fitzpatrick, who ordered all the rugs from Annie Selke’s Pittsfield-based Dash & Albert.