Sunday, August 30, 2009


John Stringfellow, owner, editor and photographer of* and also of, was kind enough to email us this historic photo along with an earlier one I posted a few days ago. Isn't it a beautiful building? Look at the old bridge and the majesty of it all.

Nancy Blackwell, who owned The National Hotel for numerous years also dropped by last week to show us other photos--and even the original newspaper clipping of the truck that went right through its front doors! I have to scan these documents to be able to share them with you. There are some beautiful photographs, old menus, brochures, etc., that Nan was able to bring in. We are just so grateful!

But there's more...we have been informed--and have verified it through concierge desk log books, that there apparently is a friendly ghost residing in one of the 3rd floor rooms. The entries in the logs indicate that guests have come down to report that there is an older lady in a nightgown who asks questions about technology and the use of new gadgets in the room. She is reportedly non-threatening; just inquisitive, with statements such as "How does this telephone work?" and "What does that thing do?" referring to the television. Hmmm....

There are many stories yet to uncover, but for now, this latest one has captured the imagination of our daughters. Our oldest turns 12 in November and she is excitedly planning an overnight birthday celebration in that room. She has now spent numerous hours on the 3rd floor, in anticipation of running into this great lady of a ghost. Our youngest is equally excited, but has decided to make other plans for her upcoming birthday this week.

Happy Birthday Laina!!!

Friday, August 28, 2009

You'll never believe how much fun we had the last couple of days. Not only did we continue to make progress with the refurbishment of The National Hotel, we also had a fabulous evening planning out our wine menu, tasting some absolutely divine and reasonably priced selections, chatting with new friends, and just simply enjoying the building--its beauty, its history, its rebirth.

When we talk about this venture in our lives, Pete and I feel blessed that our two daughters will grow up among the wonderful people of Frenchtown, learn what it means to be in the service industry, develop integrity using their parents' dedication and commitment as a living model of outstanding work ethics, and value tradition seeing the love their parents are putting into this grand old building.

Our daughters have become incredibly entrepreneurial...they cooked, set-up and manned the food tent at Freedom Farm's annual dressage show this past July. This photo shows them clowning around & trying to entertain some of the participants. It was a great day and they (ages 9 and 11 then) worked hard to help their family with this show.

Now, The National Hotel is allowing us to truly experience an exciting once-in-a-lifetime journey with our daughters, our family, and our friends.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


We were approached by Suki Dewey, representing Frenchtown's Riverfest. We will proudly exhibit the festival's banner on our porch, for all who enter Frenchtown to see as they come to a stop at the intersection in front of our doors. After a few days being displayed here, the banner will move upriver to Milford, to generate interest there too.

With Riverfest approaching, it feels good to finally get some traction with our website. We uploaded some absolutely beautiful photos of the rooms. Pete and I decided to re-introduce The National Hotel to the travel and leisure industry, by being sensitive to the economic downturn, and pricing the rooms and suites within everyone's reach.

"Staycation" NO MORE. We want people to feel the warmth of Frenchtown and come out and visit us and our fellow Frenchtown business neighbors.

Monday, August 17, 2009

One More Time in the News

Very excited about getting our hands on some truly old photos of The National Hotel. We have to digitize them now to be able to share them on our blog & our website.

In the meantime, we've been reading the coverage on The National Hotel:

There's another story in the Hunterdon County Democrat paper which is yet to be digitized.

In the meantime, we've made tons of progress, from cleaning, to meeting vendors, planning the menu (food, wine, & liquor), and have received numerous visits from local residents who are excited & anxiously awaiting the opening day.

We are truly pushing ahead, taking into consideration all of the advice & tips that our friendly neighbors are giving us. A September opening seems very feasible, but exactly what date is a little bit trickier. We want to do it right & offer a product & level of service of which we can be proud & that will indicate to our friends & neighbors that we are serious about providing a comfortable, elegantly casual & friendly place for them to frequent.

Soon we'll be able to truly make this a reality...not just words!

It's been a long day & we are exhausted from all the cleaning, painting, writing, researching, etc., that's involved with this project. And yet, the exhaustion itself is exhilarating.
Yesterday was a busy day at The National Hotel. From more cleaning, to working on our menu, continuing to develop the website content, planning, planning, at the end of the day, we had our good friends, Heather, Ed and Rebecca Wolven (classmate of Laina's), join us on the 2nd floor porch to close out the day.

As the sun went down and the town's street lights came on, we were fortunate to be able to enjoy the sights & sounds of those below us. Ed reached up and turned one of the overhead fans on, and presto, the porch became a cool, relaxing spot on which to watch the day come to an end. A glass of wine in hand, and everything looks bright!

Friday, August 14, 2009


Today marks the 2nd week we've had The National Hotel, and boy, have we made progress! It's been work, truth be told, but the poor old building had been shuttered for a really long time. There's a lot more to do, but we can't's all coming together. We have a busy weekend ahead of us, planning menus, working with landscapers and continuing to clean, clean, clean.

Anyone want to join the cleaning brigade? Just kidding. We're working room by room, cleaning, doing laundry, cleaning some some more...wait, did I say that already???

Monday, August 10, 2009

Just having the light entering the building has made such a we can see what we're cleaning! You have to see the bar. We're done cleaning and sprucing it up. Even empty, it is a beautiful room.

Soon we'll have it looking like it did in the grand old days:

Not bad, right?!

Walter O'Brien from The Courier News covered the events from Saturday. Here's what he wrote on 1 of the 2 pieces I've seen so far:

Check this out:

There'll be another article in tomorrow's paper. Loving life! Frenchtown is fantastic and this opportunity is fulfilling our family's dreams in many ways. Pete is there daily, putting in a lot of sweat equity, getting ready for the launch.

We've already made a lot of progress! Aren't the rooms looking good already?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Long day, but well worth it. Spent the day at The National Hotel with Pete and we truly feel like we're making progress. Several people from Frenchtown stopped by to say "hello" and to congratulate us on this big purchase. They can't wait for it to be open...and neither can we.

It seems like yesterday came and went, but truly, we will never forget it. We loved the way the whole town got involved, and how they brought their families--kids of all ages helped us take the wooden boards off the facade of the building. We hope this will be an inter-generational experience for us and for our Frenchtown family.

Funny thing is that no matter how many hours we put in working at The National Hotel, it doesn't really feel like work, because we're so excited about this. We're absolutely in love with the building, its history, the Frenchtown community and the area itself. What's not to love?!

Our oldest daughter, Shiara, took some nifty videos of the removal of the wooden boards yesterday, and maybe that's why she's hardly in any of the photos...she needed a press pass! Check this out:

It's finally

The National Hotel is no longer shuttered. Now the light can stream in, the clean-up crew
can make real progress
& the renovations can truly take hold. Amazing what a little
sunshine can do! It was a
glorious day, full of laughter, ceremony and SWEAT...not easy removing the wooden boards...but everyone got in on the action!

Overall, having our daughters join us and be a part of this
challenging and exciting family project, helps us feel that all
the sacrifices made are worth it. Shiara and Laina are enjoying all the excitement; these 2 girls just take it all in stride.
We're truly blessed.
We met so many wonderful people at this "event." From George and Anne who said they had to stop by, because they met at The National Hotel's restaurant a few years ago,

to Joyce Anne who stayed at the hotel on two previous visits to Frenchtown and looks forward to the opening next month.

And, we even met Daryll and Melissa Seip, whose parents (Daryll's) owned The National
Hotel from 1933 to 1977/8. Oh, the stories they shared!!! What a fun day.
We are so grateful that our our real estate agent, Steve Darlington from Prudential Fox and Roach, and our contractor, Dan Maltby from Maltby Construction, and our friend and attorney, Joseph Mulherin, Esq., joined us and helped us remove the wooden boards, drills in hand! Way to go team!!!

Our friend Carol Luling took lots of photos. We can't wait to see them and share them here.

The day closed w/a literal "bang," as the Frenchtown Police put on a fireworks display this evening that was just spectacular. Great job!!!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

We have our logo! And, we're just hours away now from pulling off those awful wooden boards from the front of The National Hotel. When we were working there yesterday, we had several people stop by and just say "hi." One individual said, "Tomorrow, right? These [boards] come off for good, right? I'll be here to see it!" I know it seems like "such a big deal" out of perhaps a seemingly simple act, but to those who know Frenchtown, and who have lived with The National Hotel being boarded up for over a year, this truly is A BIG DEAL.

The townspeople have been so kind and so encouraging, that every step we take, from weeding to parking our work trucks in the back, has been met with a hearty cheer. Pete and I are just floored by the warmth the Frenchtown community has shared with us.

Our vision is to make The National Hotel a place where our Frenchtown neighbors, Hunterdon County and Bucks County residents, as well as out-of-state guests, can come and enjoy a good and well-priced meal, complemented by signature drinks and a comfortable atmosphere. And the hotel is just beautiful...I'll take pictures when we're done renovating. Once the wooden boards are off, we can truly start working towards making our vision a reality. We can't wait to open our doors and share the excitement and joy we feel with the rest of our community!

Friday, August 7, 2009

One Day Before The Wooden Boards Are Removed

In just 1 day...yup, 1 day...Pete & I will be able to remove the wooden boards that have shuttered the building off the front. The building has already started to "breathe" after opening windows & doors & the clean-up started as soon as we got the electricity turned on 3 days ago. We've got our website registered (, water turned on the day before yesterday, phone lines established (908-996-3200), and are now tackling the training manuals and numerous other paperwork, in order to start staffing up as soon as our manager arrives in about a week.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

In the News

Warren Cooper from the Hunterdon County Democrat attended last night's meeting at Frenchtown's Borough Hall & he wrote about this new venture in today's paper:


Attended the Frenchtown Borough Hall meeting last night. Mayor Ron Sworen has been very helpful throughout the process of purchasing The National Hotel. All the members in attendance at last night's meeting were welcoming, enouraging, and helpful. Everyone wants the wooden boards to come off the front of the building. Just 2 more days to go before we remove them (August 8th!!!). We've already started working on renovating The National Hotel. It's absolutely thrilling. There is so much to do though, because we plan to open our doors VERY soon.

We don't want Frenchtown to wait any longer to have the wooden boards taken off the property; it's an eyesore as it stands now. Need to quickly fix it up & open its doors. Pete & I can't wait. Read our press release:

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Taking possession of The National Hotel

Just a little over a year ago, my husband, Pete D'Costa, and I were driving into Frenchtown, NJ to go for a run on the walking path along the Delaware River, when we passed by The National Hotel boarded up and closed down. We were shocked. Such a beautiful & historic building, where we'd gone for Easter brunch just the prior year, completely shuttered. Pete said, "I'd love to own that building & truly give this town a business that will help reinvigorate it, and provide us with our next challenge." A year later, on July 31st, we took possession of it.

From the moment we set eyes on The National Hotel, months passed and Pete & I found ourselves continuing to talk about this old hotel & restaurant/bar, which was still shuttered. We couldn't believe how it was possible, since it's the 1st building you see as you enter Frenchtown from Route 12. We let it go thinking to ourselves that our plate was full & it wasn't the right time, given the economy, to undertake such a project. But in the fall of 2008, we made our first call to the real estate broker listed for The National Hotel, to inquire about the property. We can't wait to start working on resuscitating this great property and bringing it back to its splendor, helping it be the hidden gem in this great town of Frenchtown, NJ.