SENECA FALLS — The inside of the Gould Hotel is starting to match the outside.
Since changing its name from the Hotel Clarence back to the Gould last fall, new signs have gone up on an exterior that also underwent repairs and repainting. Now, community members are coming forward with relics of the old Gould Hotel, which occupied the building for more than 60 years.
“We’ve been getting some old things [from] people that have kept them in the town and have donated them back,” said Sharon Hoatland, the Gould’s events sales and marketing manager.
Original “Gould” signs now hang over the front desk and the bar.
Meanwhile, the hotel is working to become more active in the community and to capitalize on its tourism opportunities, including some partnering with businesses like Finger Lakes Limousine & Coach and Bellovolo Day Spa, which recently opened across the street.
“We’ve got some cool stuff going,” said Peter Younglove, the Gould’s general manager.
The Gould recently bought a new trailer with a full kitchen, which will expand its ability to offer off-site catering, he said.
“We’re trying to figure out how do you get people here in groups,” Younglove said.
Hoatland and Younglove said the Gould also plans to offer classes as a way to attract community members.
“We’re going to start doing some cooking classes in the kitchen, where people can come in and learn how to make bread or cook fish,” Younglove said.
Hoatland said the Gould is working to increase its involvement in the community by hosting events like the upcoming House of Concern fashion show March 28-29. Future events might include a mystery theater, she said.
The hotel announced its name change in September, saying it wanted to return to its roots. The old Gould Hotel, which opened in 1920, fell into disrepair during an economic downturn in the 1980s and closed. The building eventually became vacant.
Jay Bernhardt of JGB properties acquired the building in 2007, renovated it and reopened it as the Clarence. The new name paid tribute to Clarence, the guardian angel from “It’s a Wonderful Life,” a movie many residents believe was based in part on Seneca Falls.
In March 2013, Dining Associates partnered with JGB and began running the hotel’s food, beverage and lodging operations. Plans to change the name quickly followed.
“I wish we would have done it earlier,” Younglove said. “As far as the local community, everyone’s ecstatic.”