On Aug. 28, the historic Brick Hotel and The Counting House Restaurant and Pub on The Circle in Georgetown will be closing.
Ed and Lynn Lester of Georgetown, owners of the inn and restaurant, have leased the building to the state of Delaware for new Department of Justice offices.
After renovations, the department is expected to move into the building on Oct. 1.
“For the past 13 years, the Brick has been my heart and soul,” said Lynn Lester. “And I’ve loved my life as an innkeeper, restauranteur, wedding officiant, event coordinator and more.”
Like many other lodging and restaurant businesses, restrictions imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic have been devastating to the business, she said. “It’s going to take a very long, long time to recover. The state of Delaware approached us about leasing the property, and timing is everything. It’s been a bittersweet decision for us,” Lynn Lester said.
In 2008, the Lesters brought new life into the Brick Hotel with conclusion of a major renovation project to preserve the historical elements of the structure. One of the features of the renovation was the re-addition of a second-floor porch that had been removed.
Their purchase of the historic building in 2004 came after the town rallied to “Save the Brick Hotel” when state officials announced plans to purchase the building and demolish it to make way for a new Chancery Court. A land swap saved the historic structure.
The Tavern on The Circle at the Brick Hotel opened in the building on Return Day 2008 and a year later Lynn Lester took over restaurant operations. She ran the hotel and restaurant until August 2018 when well-known Sussex County chef Bill Clifton moved in and started renovations on The Counting House, which opened in early 2019.
“I want to thank Lynn and Ed Lester for the opportunity to serve the county seat,” Clifton said. “It was always a wish of mine to have my own restaurant, and throughout it all, the Lesters and the Georgetown community have supported us through thick and thin. I can’t wait for the next chapter in my life.”
The Georgetown iconic building has served as a hotel in the county seat for more than 100 years. Built in 1836 with bricks from a Georgetown kiln, the building has housed a courthouse, post office and a Wilmington Trust Co. branch for 40 years. It was known as the Union Hotel during the Civil War years.
Since it was built, the Brick Hotel has been the focal point of Return Day celebrations in Georgetown. Ed Lester said the couple will miss having the best seats in town for Return Day and other Georgetown events.