The owner of Richmond Hill Inn, which was mostly destroyed by a March 19 fire, issued a statement today through a Nasheville, Tenn.-based consultant about the company’s remorse, its plans to reimburse couples who had planned to marry at the Inn, its financial standing and its desire to assist fire investigators, among other matters.
The full statement is below. Click here to read a collection of documents about the property, including court, foreclosure and fire-inspection records.
— Jon Elliston, managing editor
photo by Jason Sandford
A statement from the ownership of Richmond Hill Inn.
The ownership and staff of Richmond Hill Inn wish to express our thanks to all the wonderful people of Asheville and beyond North Carolina that have shared calls, letters and emails with their memories and shown their sympathy with us over the unthinkable loss of our beloved Richmond Pearson Mansion.
We want to thank the brave firefighters of the Asheville Fire Department. With the structure fully involved they tried to save precious heirlooms as well as the historic building. The Asheville firefighters also saved the future of the Richmond Hill Inn by stopping the fire from spreading to the rest of our cottages, meeting rooms, gardens and restaurants. We can not thank you enough. You saved jobs by putting out the fire. We wish the Fire and Police departments to know you have our full cooperation in any investigation in the cause of this fire. The prosecution of this possible crime is our most sincere desire and might help make sense of this horrendous loss.
We wish to express our deep regret to the 14 brides that wish to cancel their weddings with us. We certainly understand your concerns for the ceremony of such an important day and we are doing everything in our power to resolve all the issues surrounding this devastating loss. Your deposits will be refunded to you if you wish. Our service interruption insurance carrier is working closely with us and we anticipate resolving every arrangement within 30 days. As you may know most of our weddings take place on the rest of our grounds and they are still available to hold your ceremony to the standards you require. We would love to serve you.
Richmond Hill Inn has been not immune from the recession and in fact has felt the effects over the last 18 months. We were forced to make a few painstaking layoffs but we have always put our people first and payroll was always the top priority. Even in the face of this loss to retain our staff we have moved the Chef and staff of Gabrielle’s, our four star restaurant, to the Ambassador’s Grille. We have guests this weekend and we are continuing to accept new reservations.
More than a month ago, the executive officers of Richmond Hill Inn made the decision to begin paperwork with their attorneys to file for Chapter 11 reorganization. The Inn is and has been for sale for almost a year and is currently listed. However, buyers have been unable to raise financing since the collapse of the world-wide credit system. Initial talks have already begun with potential partners to develop the 40 acres of land along the French Broad River. Such a development would allow us to refinance with a more agreeable interest rate and reasonable terms.
Insurance claims from this fire do not in anyway benefit the current owners. Any claims from the destruction of the property at this time would be paid to the current mortgage holders that forced the foreclosure despite interest payments being current at time the foreclosure was initiated. This great loss adds unimaginable stress to our already difficult financial position. Once Chapter 11 has been filed we will have the time to continue, recover and rebuild from this loss. We are working diligently to solve every issue as quickly as possible.
Please forgive our shyness with the media. The executive officers are private people that have never wished to be in the limelight and lead very quiet lives. They are shocked, mournful and staying close to family. They have grown up and lived in Asheville and the region for most of their lives and understand what a great loss this is to the community.
America will recover from this recession. The Richmond Hill Inn will recover from this loss. Our staff is eager to give you the service and experience we are nationally praised for. Our gardens are blooming. We welcome you and we thank you for the years of support and for the time you shared with us.
This statement presented on behalf of the owners of Richmond Hill Inn by