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The owners of the Henry Clay Inn have requested a change that will allow the historic, downtown building to operate as a dormitory for Randolph-Macon students.
Town Council voted Tuesday to refer the change to the Planning Commission. Under the amendment, dormitories would be allowed to operate in business districts under a conditional use permit.
The Inn is located on Railroad Avenue nearby the Randolph-Macon campus. In February, the owners of the Inn announced intentions to close it to the public this fall.
In their request to the town, owners Ray and Carol Martin said the change would allow Randolph-Macon College to use the Inn as a dormitory for honors students and for office and meeting space.
“We believe the Inn will be a wonderful asset to the college due to its ideal location near the train station and the College and because it will enhance the prestigious Honors Program at the College,” the request reads.
The Martins noted that the Inn will need minimal interior modifications to accommodate the students and the college intends to preserve its exterior.
They also pointed to potential economic benefits in downtown Ashland.
“Allowing the honors students to use the Inn will also increase the foot traffic in the business district along the merchant corridor.”
Randolph-Macon owned the original inn there, which operated as a boardinghouse until its burning in 1905. The change “will allow the College to once again own and preserve the Inn for the foreseeable future.”
In voting to forward the amendment to the Planning Commission, Mayor Faye Prichard said the action did not mean council’s support of the change.
“This is in no way an endorsement of this plan or a comment on that plan, it’s simply moving it into the process,” she said.
Council voted 3-0 to forward the amendment, with Vice-Mayor Dr. George Spagna, a professor at Randolph-Macon, abstaining. Councilman Edward “Ned” Henson III was absent.