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Boone Tavern Renovation Gets ''Green'' Light

Beginning January 1, 2008, historic Boone Tavern Hotel in Berea, Ky. will undergo a $9.6 million, ecologically friendly renovation. The project is designed to ensure that the historic character of Boone Tavern, which is nearly 100 years old, is preserved and enhanced. The Tavern is an economic anchor on the College Square.

A rendering of what Boone Tavern Hotel will look like from the east side near Short Street.

The renovation of Boone Tavern is designed to earn the distinction of being the first LEED-certified hotel in Kentucky, as recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). After the renovation, the ongoing operations of the hotel will be eco-friendly as well.

The hotel will close from January until April to allow for the demolition and significant upgrades to the building’s infrastructure. A state-of-the-art kitchen ---both in its layout and its equipment--- will replace the existing one, which dates to the 1940s. A new elevator will replace the service elevator that currently opens onto the lobby.

The first of May, the Hotel and the dining room will reopen while work on the guest rooms and infrastructure will continue in phases throughout the year. The entire renovation is scheduled to be completed in time for the centennial celebration of Boone Tavern in early 2009.

The trustees of Berea College passed a resolution approving the renovation, which will be paid for in part by college funds, donor contributions, and proceeds from ongoing operations. The trustees view the preservation and continued use of this historic building as an important contribution to the economic sustainability of the College Square as well as an economic enhancement to the city of Berea.

The environmentally focused renovation is consistent with the historical values of Berea College, long recognized as a leader in preserving Appalachian cultural and natural resources. The full-scale renovation will revive the ecological integrity of many features original to the building’s design, such as:

• Open-air porches on two levels
• Restoration of skylights in the original dining room
• Ventilating roof windows
• Deciduous and native shade trees,

Another feature of the renovation is construction of a new two-story portico on the east facade that will be a covered entrance for guests. This will allow guests to unload near the parking lot and with easy access and handicap accessibility for all guests.

Boone Tavern’s historical integrity and charm will be upheld while implementing modern technologies (such as flat screen TV’s and a wireless network for computers) that today’s traveling public expects. Additional meeting space has been planned that will allow for expanded functions for groups of various sizes. Additional guest rooms, expanding the Tavern’s capacity from 58 to 64 rooms, will be furnished with beds and other items (such as frames to hold flat screen televisions and art tiles in the bathrooms) made by Berea College Crafts. Water saving features include dual-flush toilets and shower heads that provide better pressure while reducing water flow.

The hotel will continue to feature elegant simplicity that incorporates contemporary technology into the historic sense of place for which Boone Tavern is noted.

Throughout its first 100 years of service, Boone Tavern Hotel has earned a well-deserved reputation for extending gracious hospitality to college visitors, as well as the traveling and dining public. Duncan Hines, the travel critic whose name still is associated with excellence in fine dining, consistently included Boone Tavern in his travel and restaurant guide books for decades. Traditional and nouveau Southern cuisine garner wide acclaim, especially Boone Tavern’s signature dish, Spoonbread.

Well-trained staff include Berea College students who receive a tuition-free education and work 10-15 hours per week in the College Labor Program to earn money for room, board, and books, and continue Boone Tavern’s heritage of hospitality through their work as wait-staff in the Dining Room and elsewhere in the Hotel.

Boone Tavern serves as a gateway to Berea College and the city of Berea. Its prominent location on College Square and its massive white columns have made it a local landmark and more than just a place to “people-watch.” It serves as an anchor, both to the College Square and Old Town business districts in Berea and to the community’s economic well-being as a major attraction in the tourism and hospitality industries.

From its beginning in 1855, the college’s distinctive commitment to interracial and co-educational opportunities for Appalachian youth attracted people to visit Berea. In the early 1900’s, after hosting more than 300 hundred visitors in her home in one year, Nellie Frost persuaded her husband and college president, William Goodell Frost, that it was time to build a guesthouse for the college’s visitors. Its location on the old Dixie Highway made it a popular destination for the traveling public coming to enjoy recreation and the beauty of the mountains.

For the next nine decades, Boone Tavern provided comfortable accommodations for the campus community and the traveling public. This major renovation of an historic landmark prepares Boone Tavern to fulfill that role for the next 100 years.

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