On Wednesday Jan. 23, a water pipe burst in the Big Tree Inn as a result of frozen weather conditions, leaving the restaurant with extensive water damage.
The compromised pipe burst on the third floor and water flowed for 20 minutes, releasing approximately 32,000 gallons of water to flow throughout the building. The first floor bore the majority of the damages while the second and third floors were minimally affected.
According to the Executive Director of Campus Auxiliary Services Mark Scott, though the damage was extensive, it was not irreparable.
“Businesses have a tendency to fold up tent when these things happen, and I think in some small way there were people who may have believed [the inn] wasn’t going to be recovered, but that’s simply not the case,” Scott said.
“Water penetrated floors, walls and ceilings, to the point where ceiling tiles were falling off, and we lost a lot of carpet,” Scott said. He added that these combined factors resulted in significant damage to the building’s structure.
According to Scott, besides structural damage, water infiltrated the electrical and mechanical components of the inn, damaging the phone, computer and surveillance systems. Those in the building at the time of the incident were evacuated immediately. The Geneseo Fire Department and Village of Geneseo Code Enforcement Office were among the first on the scene.
Most rooms in the inn were closed until Saturday Jan. 26, including the catering facility, guest rooms, tavern and general dining areas.
According to Scott, the building is now mostly operational, although the guest rooms and parts of the first floor are still closed. Guests who had booked rooms were provided rooms at the Annabel Lee Bed & Breakfast Inn in order to keep their business local.
Facilities Manager for CAS Stephen Rondo coordinated many aspects of the recovery effort. According to Rondo, these restoration efforts have been incredibly successful.
“I really believe it’s that connection to the Big Tree as a local business as well as a monument to the town, you know people really want to see it back up and running,” Rondo said. “They saw the damage that had been done, but yet it’s not unrecoverable, it could have been a whole lot worse.”
Though the Big Tree Inn will have new carpet and wall coverings, Scott and Rondo said that the interior will looks the same.
Financially, Scott said that the insurance claim will total around $250,000. CAS has insurance through Tompkins Insurance Agencies, and Scott said the insurance company has been “phenomenal” and has had an “overwhelming positive response.”
Scott said that CAS has owned the Big Tree Inn for approximately 12 years, and that they take it seriously as a local landmark.
“We tried to own it and manage it in a way that would make the community proud, but it’s no small undertaking,” Scott said. “When something like this happens to the Big Tree it’s upsetting, but you’ve got to have some resolve to kind of pick up the pieces, and to be…stronger when you come out of it.”
According to Scott, the Big Tree Inn will be completely operational again within the next two weeks.