Trebor Mansion Inn
11 A Golda Court ~ P. O. Box 722
Guilford, Maine 04443 USA

(207) 876-4070
Toll-Free: (888) 280-7575

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Trebor Mansion Inn Fire, January 24, 2004

The Great Fire of January 24, 2004

Fire Guts Historic Guilford Landmark

January 26, 2004
Bangor Daily News, Page B3


GUILFORD - A historic landmark inn perched atop a hill overlooking downtown and the Piscataquis River was nearly destroyed by fire Saturday night.

Nearly 80 firefighters from seven departments fought flames and subzero temperatures to quell the fire at the Trebor Mansion Inn, Guilford Assistant Fire Chief Allen Emerson said Sunday.

Two firefighters were injured, but the occupants of the inn, including owner Robert Shaffer, were evacuated safely.

Trebor Mansion porch afire in 2004

The blaze was reported about 9:45 p.m. Saturday as a wood-stove fire in an addition to the 173-year-old Victorian-style mansion, according to Emerson. When the first unit arrived, flames were shooting out of first-floor windows and the fire had advanced to the second and third floors.

"This was one of the more difficult fires we've had in quite some time because of the age of the building and the weather," Emerson said Sunday. "Because of the many renovations, there were a lot of false walls and ceilings. It just spread everywhere along all those lines, and it was hard to get to until we could get into the structure and tear down walls. It went through the roof and every side of the building."

The main and oldest section of the inn appeared to be a loss, according to Emerson. The newer section had mostly smoke and heat damage and appeared to be repairable.


Investigators from the state Fire Marshal's Office were expected at the scene today to determine a cause, according to Emerson.

The assistant fire chief said that one Guilford firefighter suffered broken ribs when he slipped on the ice-covered porch, and another was treated for debris in his eyes.

Fire personnel remained on the scene until 5:30 a.m. Sunday, he said, but had to return to the scene a short time later to douse a flare-up. Guilford firefighters spent Sunday afternoon thawing out hoses and maintaining other equipment.

Firefighters from Sangerville, Monson, Dover-Foxcroft, Cambridge, Dexter and Sebec assisted in fighting the fire.

Constructed in 1830 by John Munroe, the Trebor Mansion Inn was converted to a bed and breakfast 146 years later in 1976 by Robert and Larraine Vernal. The couple, formerly of Stamford, Conn., spent $110,000 and nearly two years renovating the house and grounds.

When it opened on Christmas Eve in 1977, it had seven guest bedrooms and six bathrooms, a den, library, living room, dining room for guests and smaller dining room used primarily by the family.

The inn was heavily damaged in 1991 when a tree that was uprooted by lightning crashed through the slate roof.

© 2004, Bangor Daily News, used with permission.East Gable

Gable end after restoration

Trebor Mansion dining room after 2004 fireGuilford Inn Restoration Under Way; Trebor Mansion Devastated By Fire Last Year

February 3, 2005
Bangor Daily News, Page B3


GUILFORD - After three years of hard labor and $80,000 in renovations, Robert and Zarvin Shaffer watched in awe last year as a horrific fire reduced the Trebor Mansion Inn to a black shell.

The electrical fire on Jan. 24, 2004, that consumed the beautiful woodwork and eclectic furnishings in the Queen Anne Victorian building blackened ornate tin ceilings and destroyed a slate roof. The damage would have caused most people to walk away discouraged.

But the Shaffers briefly mourned their loss, enlisted the aid of neighboring teenagers to chip away the 8-inch-thick ice inside the building and then began rebuilding the circa-1830 structure.

Burned Books

"We were the only people who could restore it," Robert Shaffer said during a recent interview. "We had restored historic homes before and no yuppie was going to come to Guilford and drop $300,000 into it to restore it."

The unique building became an inn in 1978 and could house 16 overnight guests, according to its Web site.

From the ashes of the fire came a discovery that brightened the owners, for the fire revealed original Moses Eaton stencils on a hallway wall. Eaton, an itinerant stenciler whose well-documented work graced southern New England homes from the early to mid-1800s, had embellished the wall with leaves and pineapples, a symbol of hospitality.

Moses Eaton stencils survived the fire of 2004

Moses Eaton Stencils


Shaffer said he enlisted the aid of the Maine Historical Society, which put him in touch with an artist who specializes in restoring stencils. That restoration work will begin in warm weather, he said.

But other work has been completed. The round tower has been rebuilt, a feat that Shaffer was told couldn't be done, and the demolished roof has been replaced with a new slate roof. The slate of the former roof, installed in 1876, was from a Monson quarry and so was the replacement slate, according to Shaffer, who wants to restore the building as exactly as possible. "They cut it to fit and they made it work," he said.

Dennis on Tower roof

Repairs now are being made to the wrap-around porch, and renovations are under way in the six guest bedrooms. A new electrical system is being installed throughout the three-floor inn.

"It's going to take multiple teams of people to get it right," Shaffer said of the renovations. For example, he said 450 balusters will have to be custom-made for the top of the porch, and the windows also must be custom-made.

For Shaffer, it is a labor of love; after all, he selected the house because it reminded him of his childhood home in Iowa.

"I lived in New England before, and I thought it would be the best place for my grandchildren, Darius and Julia," he said.

Shaffer hopes to reopen for business by late next year.

© 2005, Bangor Daily News, used with permission.


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