Country Inn Bought at Auction by Local Businessman
The Country Inn in Berkeley Springs has a new owner. Larry Omps and his family bought the Inn at auction Aug. 28 for $800,000.
The Inn closed in early May after 5042 Holdings Limited was unable to get Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The company had owned the inn since 2006. The property was taken over by CNB Bank, Inc., to recoup the more than $2 million owed to the bank. It was sold as an absolute foreclosure.
The Omps are natives of Morgan County. Larry Omps, his brothers, and family have operated several businesses in the county for many years, including the Best Western on Valley Road, a construction business and Dawson’s Ace Hardware.
He said he, his two sons Andrew and Matt, and daughter enjoyed operating the Best Western, in existence for a little over a decade. They decided to bid on the Country Inn.
The auctioneer’s shout “Sold” was followed by cheers of many who were glad to see the Inn remain in local hands.
Omps said, “I bought it mainly because my sons are managing the Best Western and doing a great job. They’re qualified to run this place and I’m sure they’ll make it a success.”
Delegate Daryl Cowles said, “I’m excited for the family and a new day for the Country Inn.”
Mayor Susan Webster was very upset when the closure was forced. She’d worked with the owners when they started Christmas in Bath two years ago, which included caroling, Santa appearances, and carriage rides.
Webster said, “I’m happy it’s gone to a family I’ve known for years. I went through school with the Omps boys; we went to Shepherd together. I’m happy it’s people we know and already see them as business people in the community. They’re active in charity work. Larry and I are in Rotary together. I’ve told them whatever the town can do in the transition, we’re here for him. We’ve always helped the Country Inn as we could, in the past few years especially. The Country Inn is the heart of the town and the county. I wish them the very best.”
Jay Lawyer of Hurley Auctions said there had been “phenomenal” interest in the days leading up to the sale. He and others conducted three open houses and private showings. Possible bidders came from Texas, Indiana, Georgia, Florida, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. Some potential buyers had looked at it multiple times.
In the end, Omps beat just one obvious in-person bidder and/or a few serious absentee bidders in front of a packed–in crowd in the hotel’s lobby. Many citizens and business owners came out to see what would happen.
Auction requirements stipulated Omps will be responsible for personal and property taxes both current and delinquent, any liens, and sale or transfer taxes.
The original part of the current Inn was built in 1932 as the Park View Inn, but a hotel has existed on the lot for centuries. The current main hotel has 65 rooms, a full service restaurant with three large meeting rooms, large commercial kitchen, bar and lounge. There are several mini suites and single rooms on the second and third floors. The property on three lots, is 2.5 acres and also features two single family homes, used as at times as an owner’s residence or corporate retreats. In the back are modern motels rooms (circa 1985), built into the side of Warm Springs Ridge. The inn has a full service spa facility added in 1988. The Garden Room on the south side of the main inn was added in 1990.
The hot springs that Berkeley Springs is known for is next door. Warm Springs Run flows through the property. The town, was known as Bath in Colonial times, and was a frequent destination for Native Americans. It was recorded as Medicine Springs in 1747. The hotel was a respite for those taking the waters from the 18th and 19th Centuries to the present.
During the Civil War, T. J. “Stonewall” Jackson passed through Bath. After he fought skirmishes with Union troops and shelled Union troops in Hancock, Md., his Stonewall Brigade made the “Berkeley Springs Hotel” their base. (But Jackson did not stay at the hotel). That structure burned in 1898. A Civil War Trails sign sits in front of the inn. It was initiated in 2010 by the Bath-Romney Campaign Preservation and Association and previously sponsored by the Country Inn owners.
Webster added, “I believe the Omps will keep the country flavor and enhance the history of the town of Bath. They’ll be aware of events and work with the community.”
The family will develop a timeline on reopening of the facility.