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Historic inn having open house, fall festival Sunday as town looks for buyer

When Galen Roop attended a New Windsor Town Council meeting earlier this year to introduce himself to the residents as the real estate agent who would help the town sell the historic Dielman Inn, he asked for a show of hands of how many residents in the nearly packed room had never been in the building before.

Nearly every hand went up.

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The inn, which dates back to the turn of the nineteenth century, had become a private residence after it stopped being an inn, and housed an antique shop for more than 40 years, but has sat unused for some time.

"The property has just laid dormant for so long, and it's like a forgotten treasure," said Doris Pierce, president of the New Windsor Heritage Committee.

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On Sunday, the public will be able to tour the inside of the 42-room inn during a fall festival-themed open house. The main goal is to find a buyer, Galen Roop said, but even if the right person isn't at the open house Sunday, it will hopefully generate some good word of mouth about the property.

"I know there's going to be a lot of people who aren't interested in buying it, but this will give them the opportunity to go through a piece of history of New Windsor," Mayor Neal Roop said of the open house.

"And if [they're not interested], this is an opportunity for people to come through and maybe say something to their contacts somewhere, and make something happen."

Galen Roop is the nephew of the inn's former owner, Julia Roop Cairns. He is also a second cousin to Neal Roop, whose father was first cousins with Cairns.

In addition to the tours of the property, there will be pumpkin pie and apple cider, people in period costume, raffles for gift certificates to local restaurants and an autographed Baltimore Ravens Joe Flacco jersey, children's games and covered wagon rides to the Atlee House bed and breakfast, which will also be open for tours.

"We're hoping we're going to have a nice crowd for it," Galen Roop said about the day. "Who knows, it might become something they start doing every year if it's a success."

Pierce, co-owner of the Atlee House, said she was excited by Roop's ideas for the fall festival open house and was happy to join in the day. But most of all, she is interested in the future of the Dielman Inn.

"We're just hoping it will attract somebody that will see the potential for a business retail adventure," she said. "There are multiple things that could be done with that space; it's quite a sizable lot."

The town purchased the property in 2011 in the hopes of having some influence on how the next buyer would use the property. While the mayor and New Windsor Town Council agreed that they would like to see the historical facade and character of the property be restored, they agreed not to put limitations on the property, said Councilwoman Kim Schultz, in the hopes of attracting a developer who could make the building into a mixed-use building with professional and retail spaces. The town has also considered offering some sort of tax credit towards a restoration of the property, she said, or other incentives to make the development process go more smoothly.

"We certainly want to try and work with them so that the property can be developed," she said.

Roop said he sees huge potential for the inn.

"It's certainly located in a nice spot - it could be a beautiful property," Galen Roop said. "We're looking for somebody that's got the love for an older building that's willing to put sweat equity and some heart and soul into it."

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The lot has more than 10,000 square feet of building plus a barn on the property, he said. The asking price is $199,000 - a reflection of the deteriorated condition of much of the building, though Galen Roop said portions of the property are in good enough shape that someone could live there while renovating the rest.

"It's just going to take somebody who's got the money and the ideas, and I can give them plenty of ideas," he said.

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