March 15, 1907 – Many Improvements at Bassett House
The fact that the Bassett House1 is to be reopened for business on Tuesday evening next when a reception is to be given so that the people of the city may look over the building and see the many improvements that have been made is a welcome one. The associated communities have been much handicapped during the past nine months by the fact there has not been a first-class hotel here. The reopening of the Bassett House means a good deal to the city.
The changes that have been made in the interior of the building and the up to date way in which it has been furnished, makes the hotel one of the best in this section of the state. It is superior in furnishings to the hotels in New Haven and Bridgeport, and is surpassed only by the Elton in Waterbury. It is not as large as the hotels in these other places, but the forty or more rooms will more than give accommodation for the trade which has been accustomed to come here, and it is expected that Landlord Pixley will largely increase this.
Many Changes Made
Immediately after the house was vacated last May it was closed, and late in the summer carpenters were set at work making repairs in it, and they made many, adding bathrooms, changing over rooms, laying floors and doing a number of things which it was needful to do. Then the painters and paperers took their turn at the building and changed it in appearance inside and out. Every room in the house was repainted and repapered, and by the time Michael Flaherty got ready to rent the building it seemed like a new one.
The next thing to do was to find a hotel man of experience to take hold of the house and run it, and a committee of businessmen who were anxious to have the house run in first-class shape consulted with Mr. Flaherty about a tenant. There were a number of applications for the house and Mr. Flaherty finally settled upon George E. Pixley, a man who has lived in New Milford thirty-eight years, and who has run the New England House in that place twelve years, being he land lord of the old house until that was burned, and the new one was built, having charge of that one.
All Furnishings New
As soon as he reached here Mr. Pixley made arrangements with F. F. Abbott, of the Howard & Barber Company2, for the purchase of furniture and equipment for the house, and through this firm the house has been refurnished throughout. Everything in it is new and nearly all the furniture was made for the house, so that it is practically made to fit in each room. The furniture, with the exception of the beds, is dark oak, and is a very handsome oak. The bedsteads are iron, enameled in white and trimmed with brass. They were made by the Whitcomb Metallic Bedstead Company3. There are no carpets in the rooms but in the center of each is a Brussels rug and outside of the rug, covering the floor, is a border of American wood-grain carpet. This wood-grain carpet makes a fine finish, and the rooms are given a very rich appearance thereby. There is not a sleeping room in this hotel which is not far more comfortably furnished that it has ever before been, and there are few hotels in Connecticut any better.
For Comfort of Guests
While the changes in the sleeping rooms are very great, those that have been made on the first floor are even greater. The office has been turned all around. The desk now occupies the space between the two doors, and is a large, roomy one. The room is finished in dark wood, and is furnished with Mission furniture. The two parlors which were formerly on this floor have been changed into a writing room and a reading room, and have been furnished with Mission furniture. The front parlor is the writing room and in this room are individual tables for the use of those who wish to write. The back parlor is the reading room. These rooms are very comfortable ones and, being somewhat retired, offer the guests of the hotel a more comfortable and more quiet place in which to sit Formerly the traveling men who stopped at the hotel had all to sit in the office and it was rather annoying for them to try and write while the talking and card games were going on. The ladies’ parlor is on the floor above it at the top of the stairs, and across the hall is the private parlor for the family, which may be used by guests when the hotel is crowded.
The dining room on the first floor has been wonderfully changed, and shows that the improvement in the house has been general. The ceiling, which has always been a great eyesore, has been paneled, and the treatment of the walls is artistic and effective. The tables throughout the room are small ones, and the table linen, china, and silverware are very attractive. The room is lighted at night by electricity.
The improvements to the hotel have been extended to the kitchen, which has been refitted and made more convenient for work in every way. It is clean and wholesome, a fact which will appeal to those who like to think that in a hotel even there food is prepared with as much care as it is in their own homes. In connection with this development it may be said that Mr. Pixley is having one of the rooms in the basement made into a big ice chest. This ice chest will hold a large supply of meats and other articles. He says he buys his meats in bulk and cuts them as they are needed, as this is cheaper and gives a great deal better satisfaction to the patrons of the house.
The bar room has been changed over very greatly. The fixtures are entirely new, being of oak and very handsome. It is not the intention of the proprietor to put a pool or billiard table in this room, and he has one end of the room partitioned off. In this he intends that traveling salesmen who come to the city and want a place in which to show goods, may show their samples. Those who come to show millinery can use the reading room on the main floor.
In connection with the bar room there has been fitted up a small room at the bottom of the stairs into which people who desire to have a sandwich and drink served them may find seats and tables. This is an innovation and it is believed that will take particularly with those who wish to discuss business while refreshing themselves.
Besides these changes in the place Mr. Flaherty has done his part towards making the building as comfortable as possible in wintertime. The heating arrangements have been overhauled completely and during the zero weather in February it was found that there was no difficulty in heating the house from top to bottom. The toilet arrangements throughout the house are new, and the baths are new. There is one room which has a private bath connected with it, a very new feature in the hotel. Eight more rooms on the top floor are cut off from the rest of the building, and are for servants, most of whom come from New Milford with Mr. Pixley.
All Want Hotel
Mr. Pixley says that one of the pleasantest things about coming to Derby is the cordiality with which he has been met by the businessmen of the place. He says that they have shown an eagerness for a first-class hotel, which makes the success of the house a foregone conclusion, and he has no hesitation in saying that the house will pay. There is no house that is better situated for business than this one is, and he says that in his wide acquaintance with traveling men he has learned that they want to come to the city to spend the night. He is very much pleased with those prospects. As showing the interest taken in the opening of the hotel he says he has been urged by people living here to hurry and open, as they want to get in. He says also that in fitting up of the house he has been agreeably surprised at the way Mr. Flaherty has treated him, as he left instructions with the carpenters and plumbers to make any changes Mr. Pixley wanted and to do all that he wanted. Usually the owners of a building do not treat a tenant that way, he says.
As to the new proprietor of the hotel, he and his wife come here with a fine reputation already, and have very favorably impressed those who have met and have to deal with them. They are highly endorsed by the traveling men, and the later say that the city has been fortunate to get a man of Mr. Pixley’s character and ability to take hold of the house, and that he assures the hotel will be made a first-class one in every respect.
The lighting of the house at night makes the corner of Fourth Street and Elizabeth Street a more cheerful place than it has been for several months.
1. The Bassett House was converted into a hotel in 1868. It was destroyed by fire in 1914, and the renovations described here were ruled a mitigating cause. The Hotel Clarkwas built on the site.
2. The Howard & Barber Company was Derby’s premiere department store for many decades, located on Main Street. Its former building was razed in the first phase of redevelopment in 2005.
3. Whitcomb Metallic Bedstead Company was located on the southern portion of Canal Street, Shelton