A great historic place to meet, greet, and eat.
a great place to have a glass of wine
There are just places that when you walk in, history starts to talk to you. Ted Conklin’s The American Hotel in Sag Harbor is without a doubt still such a place.
The hotel rose from the ashes of Sag Harbor’s original hotel, The Howell Inn, which along with the Phelps Hotel, was destroyed in the great fire of 1845. In 1846 the present Hotel building opened wisely built of bricks, many of which you still see today. When you walk into his hotel Ted has chosen Thomas Allnoch, to greet you. Tom plainly says, “Who ever walks through the door is treated like a guest in my house, but I demand some respect for the home.” As I spoke briefly with Ted and Tom I observed just how perfect Tom is in his role of greeting, advising, and helping all that walk into the hotel.
In 1972 the hotel was sold by the Young family who lived upstairs in what is now the eight guest rooms and who ran a restaurant downstairs. Ted ,whose father ran a successful brass business in Westhampton back then, bought the Hotel and property at the age of 22. The building and interior looked nothing like the early American museum it is today. Now it is a fine restaurant and historic hotel. In 1972 , Ted’s friends thought he was not doing the wisest of moves even though he purchased the hotel at a very good price. But then the process of bringing the American Hotel back to life as a hotel and fine dining restaurant began. Slowly but surely rooms were restored and furnished with the best period antiques Ted could acquire. The hotel was transformed into the masterpiece it is today.
Now so many local residents and visitors alike stop by for a friendly drink from Vinnie Rom who has served behind the historic bar for almost 20 years. The dinning rooms seats 125, and the bar has eight stools, and on any night the warmth of the room greets any stranger in from the cold. The wine list consist of 2,500 bottles of wine and at the time of this writing the $8100 per bottle of “Domaine de la Romanee Conti, 1990” being the costliest. The American Hotel only serves Breakfast for the hotel guest but is open to the public for lunch and dinner seven days a week , fifty two weeks of the year. Actually only Christmas Eve and Christmas Day is the restaurant not open.
No one knows for sure but Tom believes the wooden floor is the original. I was told Ted is proud of the job he has done finding the right blend of carpets, paintings, hurricane candles, and framed prints to adore the walls. I, myself can never get enough of the great prints of the old great sailboats that adorn one of the dining rooms. In the men’s room are pictures of the American Hotel in the twenties, and another that must be the circa of the great Civil War. Since that time another room has been added that has an atrium glass ceiling that is extremely pleasant to dine under.
This hotel has a tradition of being a wonderful place for so many families to have special gatherings. It has had its share of romantic dates, and the bar is so friendly within minutes you are engulfed in some sort of friendly chatter. This is because of Ted’s Vision. In 1972 President Richard Nixon was in a campaign against Senator George McGovern for the presidency. The Beatles had just officially broken up, and the Viet Nam War was still in full rage. It is unbelievable that a twenty two year old of that moment would have the desire and the vision, to take a part of Sag Harbor’s past and restore it, then preserve it for its future. Perhaps Ted Conklin has done well with his investment, but the true riches of his enterprise has been shared with the tens of thousands of people who have walked into his establishment and smiled knowing it is something very special. I believe nobody who has never been in the Hotel before ever left without gaining something.
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