When Danny Patel ventured down to the basement of his newly acquired hotel, he had no idea what treasures he would find. The Tudor-style East Norwich Inn, at the junction of 25A and Route 106, once belonged to the musical legend Burt Bacharach. But when Patel purchased the hotel last summer, he knew nothing of its rich history.
“I was interested in the hotel because of its prime location,” said Patel, who lives in New Hyde Park and once owned a Howard Johnson near Kennedy Airport. “It’s the only hotel in the area, and is surrounded by so many great restaurants.”
Patel’s vision was to renovate the inn, which had been constructed in 1970, from top to bottom, beginning with a new roof. While construction was starting on the roof, he began cleaning out the hotel’s basement. It was there that he learned about the inn’s famous former owner. “We were going through all these pictures and papers and realized that some of them were of celebrities,” Patel recalled.
Bacharach bought the inn in the early 1970s, and hosted some of music’s best-known entertainers there. In those days the hamlet was quaint, the kind of place where children could ride their bicycles free of worry down the middle of narrow streets. In the winter, people enjoyed ice-skating for hours on Brown’s Pond, which was west of the East Norwich Commons. And there was a 100-year-old black walnut tree smack in the middle of the intersection of Route 106 and 25A that residents persuaded the Department of Transportation not to remove. “The tree eventually died,” said East Norwich Civic Association President Matt Meng. “But its progeny still stands on the northeast corner, in front of the TD Bank on 25A.”
When Bacharach owned the East Norwich Inn, the hamlet had an image akin to a Norman Rockwell painting. It must have amazed residents when the inn became a popular stomping ground for pop musicians and actors. That went on until Bacharach sold it sometime in the 1980s.
Realizing how rich the building’s history is, Patel and general design contractor Steve Accardi decided to start framing the pictures they found. They are now hanging on the walls of the newly renovated lobby.