The BASS is Back! - Black Bass Hotel



The BASS is Back! - Black Bass Hotel
The newly renovated Black Bass. Photo/Glenn Race
The BASS is Back!
by Marcia Nye
hen the hammer went down at
the March 2008 auction of The
Black Bass Hotel, Jack Thompson,
owner of The Thompson
Organization of car dealerships,
had landed the winning bid for an
18th century building that was
suffering from years of neglect.
Relying on the experience of his bidding
rival during the auction (now his manager),
and on the expertise of his daughter, Laura
Thompson Barnes, as well as on a team of
engineers, contractors and designers, the
group embarked on a multimillion dollar,
fourteen-month renovation that has transformed the property into a showcase for fine
dining and lodging.
Steeped in History
A sentinel presence in the hamlet of
Lumberville, PA, The Black Bass holds a storied and iconic place in the history of these
parts. The original owners were Tories, loyal
to the British crown during the American
Revolution. Are there ghosts afoot?
Perhaps. Have presidents slept here? Grover
Cleveland did; George Washington, famously, did not. Built during the 1740s, The Bass
Nouveau/November 2009
has weathered the ravages of a river’s
mighty flood waters, not to mention almost
total destruction by fire in 1831.
For fifty years, until his death in 2003,
Herbert Ward owned The Black Bass. An
Anglophile, he lovingly embellished the inn
with many English influences, including his
own collection of royal British memorabilia,
which contained items dating as far back as
the reign of Mary Queen of Scots in the 1500s.
A New Beginning
“When my father took over ownership of the
inn, everything had been left intact,” Laura
recalls. “We have used about 70 percent of the
original furnishings and 90 percent of the artwork. Everything was cataloged and warehoused and then reupholstered, washed,
rebuilt or all three.”
The Bass’s collection of British royalty
memorabilia still decorates the Tavern.
“This entire project has been a true family
affair. My sister-in-law and niece cleaned and
sorted every piece in the display,” Laura says,
noting that her fifteen-year-old nephew disassembled, polished and then reassembled
the model of a vintage horse-drawn coronation coach after researching the process on
the Internet. The model is on view
behind the pewter bar from Maxim’s in
Paris, also part of The Bass’s collection
of memorabilia.
With the assistance of Diane Zabiela
of Bank Street Design in Lahaska, PA,
and the help of her mother, Loraine
Thompson, Laura oversaw the
redesign of the interior. The eight second-floor guest suites have been transformed into elegant havens exquisitely
appointed with restored antiques and
artwork, private balconies and spa-like
baths. Author of the award-winning
Ernest Series of children’s books,
Laura enlisted the talent of her books’
illustrator, Carol A. Camburn, to
redesign the inn’s logo and create a
subtler, updated look.
Wining and Dining
Mr. Thompson also purchased the
Lumberville General Store, located
right across the road. In addition to
being a deli, coffeehouse and local
meeting place, the General Store now
houses a newly installed bakery that
services both the store and the hotel, Three major players in the renovation process at the Black
Bass (pictured l. to r.), General Manager Grant Ross, Laura
supplying breads, biscuits, muffins, Thompson Barnes and Jack Thompson. Photo/Glenn Race
desserts and more.
The main dining room overlooks the Delaware River and Canal. Photo/Bob Greenberg
Nouveau/November 2009
The main dinAlthough
ing rooms and the
kitchen has been
outdoor deck offer
totally reconfigured
unmatched views
and outfitted with
of the Raven Rock
pedestrian bridge
culinary stalwarts
that spans the
from the past
Delaware River and
remain, including
links Pennsylvania
the The Bass’s longto Bull’s Island in
time chef, John
New Jersey. Diners
Barrett, and the
often walk across
hotel’s beloved sigthe bridge before
or after enjoying a
Charleston Meeting
Street Crab. One of A favorite of many patrons is the Black Bass signature
the new menu dish, Charleston Meeting Street Crab. Photo/Glenn Race even illuminated at
highlights for fall is
night. The cozy
Horseradish-stuffed Shrimp wrapped in
Lantern Lounge is perfect for private cocksmoked bacon with a savory horseradish
tail-hour gatherings or for simply enjoying
stuffing and honey mustard sauce. Another
coffee and dessert by the fireplace. An intinew offering is Pecan-coated New Zealand
mate dining room that seats between eight
Rack of Lamb. The Black Bass serves a threeand fourteen people has become a popular
reservation request. Weddings and corporate
course Champagne Brunch on Sundays, and
retreats are easily accommodated as well.
if you’re looking for the quintessential setting for your Thanksgiving Day dinner, your
General Manager Grant Ross, the aforesearch can end right now: The Black Bass is
mentioned bidding rival of Jack Thompson,
planning a multicourse feast and buffet.
had been in the hospitality industry for many
An intimate dining room that seats between eight and fourteen people has become a popular
reservation request. Photo/ Glenn Race
Nouveau/November 2009
The Tavern at the Black Bass houses former owner Herbert Ward’s collection of royal British memorabilia
and the pewter bar from Maxim’s in Paris. In the wall behind the bar is a miniature restored vintage
coronation procession. Photo/Glenn Race
years in his native Scotland, and he was eager
to put down roots in this area. He says,
“Immediately after the auction, Mr.
Thompson handed me the keys and said, ‘So,
do you want to get on with it?’ Then he told
me my job was to accomplish two things:
make this place like The Black Bass used to
be, and do it properly. Together, we’ve done
that—–and we’ve made it better than ever.” ♥
The Black Bass serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and Sunday Brunch. Indoor and outdoor
banquet facilities available. Onsite parking.
Reservations strongly recommended. 215/
297-9260. See Dining Guide.
This rear view of the Black Bass Hotel reveals the second-story lodging facilities and the open deck,
which seats more than seventy people and overlooks the Delaware River and Canal. Photo/Bob Greenberg

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