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The Pines has been restored

PINE PLAINS — For the Pine Plains community, eight years is a long time to wait to see the fate of The Pines Inn, a historic building just outside the center of town that has been closed for nearly a decade while undergoing renovations. But for perfectionists like Jorge and Eileen Yajure, who own the house, eight years is just how long it took to get things right.

The Pines, which reopened its doors as a luxury boutique hotel this past June, is the culmination of more than 20 years of research and collecting for the Yajures. A 7,500-square-foot house with 17 rooms excluding bathrooms and basement, the Victorian architecture is painstakingly matched by its period home furnishings.

There are exquisitely carved antique bed frames, which have been modified to accommodate California king-sized mattresses. Then there are pieces of furniture that are actually original to The Pines, like the towering book cabinet in the library or the wooden refrigerator in the kitchen, which has the modern assistance of an electrical refrigeration unit but still retains its original wooden shelves on the inside.

There are four rooms for rent on the second floor, while four potential rooms on the third floor have yet to meet the Yajures’ high standards. That work, like the rest of the restoration that has already been completed, has no timeline and will be finished only when the owners are truly satisfied with the results.

Getting to The Pines

While The Pines is where the Yajures ended up, it’s far from where they started. Technically this is their third restoration, the first being their own home. The result was impressive enough that camera crews filmed the house for a television series.

“It was originally a  hobby for us,†Jorge explained. “When we first got married we were very into early American culture. But we bought a house in Peekskill, and the architecture was so Victorian that there was no way we were going to put anything Colonial in it.â€

“We do a lot of research,†added Eileen. “We have a lot of books and there have been many trips to museums, to the period rooms at the Met. We used to go so much that Jorge eventually got a press pass so he could take pictures.â€

The idea to buy and renovate an inn has been simmering with the couple for some time, and eventually the Yajures purchased a house in Peekskill with those intentions.

It was smaller than The Pines, he said, “and the architecture was later by 10 or 15 years. Also, the land was on a city lot, in the middle of the village.â€

Still, by their account, the Yajures put quite a bit of effort into restoring that house. They also started to amass a lot of furnishings. But it wasn’t until a trip to Tuscany that they discovered a true passion in agricultural tourism. At that point they realized the Peekskill house wasn’t exactly what they were looking for.

The Peekskill building was eventually sold. And it was a simple real estate listing that brought the Yajures to The Pines.

“There was a bit of a bidding war over it,†Jorge said. “But we knew it was the right place, and it was the right timing.â€

From 2002 to 2010

What has happened to the building in the eight years since the Yajures purchased it was a slow and careful restoration process. While there were definitely some significant projects that needed attention, at its core the existing condition of the building was one of the main reasons that the Yajures were so excited about it.

“The state of preservations in this house are incredible,†Jorge said.

“It had great bones,†Eileen added, “and so often much of that gets ripped out. The furniture and light fixtures have been brought in, for the most part, but other than that everything is original.â€

All of the porches were in dire need of repair and were rebuilt from the ground up.

“One was essentially standing by the grace of God,†Jorge said.

The roof had been subject to several fires and work was done to restore the metal roofing. And the boiler was also completely replaced. But as Jorge said the core of the building was intact, and inside most of the work was about finding the right furnishings.

That task was not completed in just eight years; from the couple’s prior two restorations there was furniture that had already been collected for use. But the Peekskill house was half the size of The Pines, and associated problems ensued. Chandeliers that worked beautifully as the main dining room pieces in their previous locations looked diminutive by scale in the new home and were used instead in the bedrooms.

Two relatively local craftsmen were instrumental in the furnishing process, Jorge said, including a woodworker in Rhinebeck and a metal worker in Hillsdale. All of the light fixtures are Victorian antiques, meaning they needed to be reworked with modern electrical wiring.

“We had to make sure everything has the same story,†Eileen said, mentioning as an example that the pattern for the wallpaper in the library was actually copywritten the same year that the house was built. “If you had this house [in 1878], you may have chosen that exact same wallpaper.â€

A historic house

When the building was purchased it was still an operating bed and breakfast. In fact, for the last century the building has either been used as a guest house or as an inn. The entire building was built in about a year, starting in 1877, after a previous house in the same location was lost in a fire. Its original owner was William S. Eno, a prominent lawyer.

Before the Yajures purchased the building it was already in the National Historic Registry, and the previous owners had compiled a fair amount of historical research.

“We’ve, of course, done further research,†Jorge explained. “We contacted descendants of Mr. Eno, who are excited that someone is taking care of their ancestor’s homeplace.â€

The Yajures said they have been sent family heirlooms and memorabilia, including copies of a letter from Eleanor Roosevelt, who was a close friend of the family, as well as an autograph from Abraham Lincoln.

The owners have also had help and input from the community, and they are quick to acknowledge that the building is historic nationally and locally and is important to many people in the community.

“A lot of people in Pine Plains have been really generous,†Eileen said. “They feel like it’s a part of their history as well, they feel attached to the house.â€

Mixing the old

with the new

While the Yajures are the owners of The Pines, they come up to Pine Plains mainly on the weekends, and the day-to-day goings on at the inn are handled by Manager Molly Clauhs and Chef Catherine Greeley. Both attended Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, graduating earlier this year, and both live in the house full time.

“So far it’s been a very quiet opening,†Clauhs said, “as far as marketing or advertising. And there are only four rooms now, but we’re doing really well, much better than expected. It’s been a huge measure of success just seeing all four rooms booked.â€

Most business has been weekend visitors at this stage, but as Clauhs pointed out there has been a lot of activity in Pine Plains in the last few months, with new restaurants and businesses expanding, and she is hoping the changes indicate that the small country town is finally being put on the map.

“Pine Plains is perfect,†Eileen added. “You’re two hours from Manhattan, and you’re far enough out so you feel out of the city. This is where people want to be. You get here and you can just decompress.â€

“Guests have been impressed by our attention to detail,†Jorge said. “Everything has been very, very positive, and they’re excited about having spent time in Pine Plains.â€

The luxury of spending a weekend in The Pines does come with a cost: Rooms are currently $285 per night, which is a special introductory price, according to Clauhs, and is based on double occupancy. That price includes a four-course breakfast prepared by Greeley. Dining is also available to the general public and space can be rented out for private dinners and luncheons.

But as much as the antiquity and attention to detail is the focal point of the Yajures’ approach to the historic building, that shouldn’t mean that a stay in Pine Plains for the weekend means walking on egg shells.

“Everything is beautiful and antique,†Clauhs said, “but it’s sturdy, it’s not fragile. It’s about combining antiquity with modern comfort.â€

“You come up here to experience the Hudson Valley,†Jorge said. “People come up wearing hiking boots and jeans and that’s the way we want it.â€

“Catherine and I, despite the difference in age with Jorge and Eileen, saw this house in the same way, and I think that’s amazing,†Clauhs added. “The Pines really has been in and out of a lot of people’s lives. It’s really old but it’s been given a new life. It’s like a little baby, and it’s very exciting to see what’s going to happen.â€

“Let’s put it this way,†Jorge said, laughing. “We like to talk about the old history of the building. Molly and Catherine like to blog about it.â€

Contact The Pines Inn by phone at 518-398-7677 or online at thepinesinn.com. For news and updates on the inn, e-mail mclauhs@thepinesinn.com.

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