Two Historic Inns Change Hands in Edgartown and Lambert's Cove
By JAMES KINSELLA
Gazette Senior Writer
Two historic Vineyard inns - Lambert's Cove Inn in West Tisbury and the Tuscany Inn at the Captain Fisher House in Edgartown - were sold during the last week in heavily leveraged deals.
On Wednesday, Hicklin-Jones Holding Co. LLC of Vineyard Haven bought the Lambert's Cove Inn for $4 million from Banning and Elizabeth Repplier, who have owned and operated the establishment for the past 23 years. Hicklin-Jones financed the purchase with a $3.9 million mortgage from the Reppliers.
Last Friday, Michael P. Phillips of North Reading bought the Tuscany Inn on North Water street for $3 million, and an adjoining vacant lot for $2 million, leveraging all but $50,000 in the deal.
Mr. Phillips financed the purchase of the inn with a $3 million mortgage from the Southern New Hampshire Bank and Trust Co. and the lot with a $1.95 million loan from the seller, The Captain Fisher House Inn Limited Partnership.
The principals in the holding company buying Lambert's Cove Inn are Scott J. Jones and I. Kell Hicklin, Atlanta-area residents who have worked as event planners for the past 25 years.
Mr. Jones and Mr. Hicklin have wanted to own and run an inn for the past decade and say the Lambert's Cove Inn is just what they have been looking for.
They are committed to continuing the inn's three key functions: as an inn, as a restaurant and as a venue for weddings.
The sellers, meanwhile, say they have found the ideal buyers in Mr. Jones and Mr. Hicklin.
"When we decided to sell Lambert's Cove Inn, we were looking for new owners who would feel a connection to the property and continue to operate it as an inn," Mr. and Mrs. Repplier said in a statement. "The inn is rich in tradition and we wanted that tradition continued. We feel certain that we have found that kind of dedication in Kell and Scott."
The property, while commonly referred to as Lambert's Cove Inn, officially has been known during the Reppliers' tenure as Lambert Cove Country Inn. The new official name of the property will be Lambert's Cove Inn.
The two men plan to retain the inn's staff, including Joe DaSilva as the chef. The inn also will continue to host the First and Third Men's Club, which has been meeting at the inn for lunch for more than 20 years.
Mr. Jones said he and Mr. Hicklin will focus on operating the inn and will start with renovating the dining rooms before Valentine's Day.
Liz Macfarlane, the daughter of Mrs. Repplier, said the time had come for her mother and stepfather, Banning Repplier, to sell the inn. The Reppliers were getting older, she said, and other family members didn't want to take over operating the inn.
She already had spent time herself managing the inn. The sale, she said, means she can eventually return to her work as a homeopathic health practitioner in Vermont, though she will stay at the inn for a while to help Mr. Jones and Mr. Hicklin during the transition.
Her parents, she said, are very happy that the property will continue to be operated as an inn, rather than converted to another use or turned into a private home.
Ms. Macfarlane never placed the inn on the open market, but rather sent a letter of invitation to a number of prospective buyers. Mr. Jones and Mr. Hicklin, not on the initial list, approached her in August about their interest in acquiring the inn.
She said she would use the words "historical, peaceful, beautiful, restorative, romantic" to describe the property.
"A lot of people feel comfortable there," Ms. Macfarlane said. Brides who have been married there, she said, say they feel as though they've been wed in their own home.
The inn's roots go back to the late 1790s, when it was part of what then was a working farm. The inn is situated on just under eight acres of landscaped grounds dotted with gardens, shrubs and trees. The property includes a main house dating from 1820 with seven guest rooms and a separate two-bedroom apartment. A barn and carriage house has eight guest rooms. The restaurant seats 70. The property has a tennis court and is less than a half-mile from Lambert's Cove Beach, to which inn patrons have access.
Mr. Jones and Mr. Hicklin said they plan to reopen the inn, now closed, for Valentine's Day weekend, and then reopen for the rest of the season in mid-March.
As for the Tuscany Inn, the owner of the property, The Captain Fisher House Inn Limited Partnership, agreed in late December to sell the inn and an adjoining vacant lot.
The partnership sold the inn to Michael P. Phillips, a developer based in North Reading who also reportedly has a home on the Vineyard.
Neither of the partnership's members - Laura Sbrana, also known as Laura Scheuer, and Hugo E. Scheuer - could be reached for comment yesterday on their decision to sell. Mr. Phillips couldn't be reached to comment on his decision to buy.