More than a year and a half's worth of renovations and restorations has led to the opening of the newest addition to the Inns of Aurora.
The property, Rowland House, was officially opened on May 1. It is the third hotel among the Inns of Aurora properties, joining the Aurora Inn and E.B. Morgan House.
Built in 1902, Rowland House stands on Main Street in Aurora on the eastern shore of Cayuga Lake. The property was named after Pleasant Rowland, Wells College alumna and the founder of the American Girl brand of dolls.
Rowland, a noted entrepreneur and philanthropist, has restored a number of sites in the town for several years, choosing to add the three-story Main Street property to the list when restoration started in 2013, said Meryl Davis, director of marketing for the Inns of Aurora.
"She's an absolutely integral part of the history of Aurora," Davis said of Rowland.
Approximately $8.5 million went into the restoration of the early 1900s home, which was used as a private home for much of its history, Davis said. Rowland purchased the property in 2001.
Much of those funds went toward installing adequate plumbing and electrical services into the structure. Other structural improvements included landscaping and an geothermal system designed to control the facility's heating and air conditioning at an efficient rate.
The home was in "beautiful condition" prior to the project, and renovators needed to be careful to make sure the historical integrity of the property was still kept intact, Davis said.
"Maintaining as much of the home as possible is costly since you're not just tearing down and rebuilding," she said.
With renovations complete, Rowland House features 10 guest rooms, four of which are located on the third floor. These rooms are unique, Davis said, as they are completely outfitted with furniture and accessories from company Mackenzie-Childs.
Befitting of a property named after her, Rowland actually owned Mackenzie-Childs for several years before selling it. Davis referred to the company's decor as "a very eclectic mix and design."
"I think that's going to be a really exciting partnership as well," she said of working with Mackenzie-Childs.
Other features of the property that make it unique, Davis said, are a state-of-the-art boardroom, a boathouse edging Cayuga Lake, and a small Grecian temple that was restored to be used for weddings.
Both the boardroom, which can be used by 16 to 20 people for meetings and corporate retreats, and a 22-person private dining room are available to be rented out individually. "There's quite a bit of flexibility," Davis said of the options.
With the summer season starting up, Davis noted that all of the Inns of Aurora sites have been filling up very quickly over the past few weeks.
Through May and June, Rowland House will offer an introductory rate to help introduce guests to the property, Davis said.
"It's spectacular. People are excited to see it," she said. "It's a really, really beautiful property and a beautiful home to be in."