Back in 1993, the founders of The Inn at Versailles made a pilgrimage of sorts to the Alsace-Lorraine area of France to help them authenticate the renovation work they had embarked on to give their future guests a more genuine European-style experience at their hotel in the Darke County village.
The inn and its restaurant opened the following year with salmon-colored washed walls, stone floors and antique French furniture, including a 17th-century hutch and curio cabinet and 19th century pocket doors. It has been a destination restaurant and hospitality experience for those who live in and near the Miami Valley for the last 25 years.
The 20-room inn in downtown Versailles is closed today after suffering damage Tuesday night in a difficult-to-extinguish fire that prompted a four-alarm call-out that involved multiple surrounding fire departments. The cause, damage estimate and projected re-opening date have not been determined.
There were no injuries reported, and the inn’s staff was praised by those commenting on the inn’s Facebook page, including one person who was in the restaurant when the fire started elsewhere in the building.
“This certainly became a very memorable anniversary date dinner for us,” she said. “(We) will be e-mailing you (regarding) payment ... evacuated prior to dessert.”
Another commenter wrote, “The staff at The Inn tonight were so very professional , firm in getting patrons out,and I heard first-hand, wanting a head count of everyone (and) anyone either in the restaurant or rooms upstairs. Very impressive, very proud!”
Another local resident delivered this message to the inn’s owners: “Your friends and neighbors are standing with you with such a difficult night. Your business is such an important part of the community and region. We love your food! Sending lots of prayers right now.”
The inn itself was born from fire more than a century ago.
In 1901, a massive blaze ravaged six business blocks and 38 residences in and near the center of the village. When the structures were rebuilt, several businesses occupied the ground-floor spaces, and a small hotel occupied part of the second floor.
The inn closed in 1989, was purchased in 1992, and started its new life in 1994 as The Inn at Versailles and its restaurant, Michael Anthony’s at The Inn.
What is now Versailles was settled in 1812 and laid out in 1819 as “Jacksonville.” Unofficially named Frenchtown, the village was renamed Versailles in 1833 by Frenchman Peter Frantz.
How quickly the historic Inn at Versailles will reopen will depend on how aggressive its ownership is in repairing damage fire crews had to cause to put out the quickly spreading fire, Versailles Fire Chief Brian Pearson said this morning.
Versailles fire crews remained on scene today to monitor the building for possible rekindles.