A Brief Family History of the Benn Conger Inn

In October 2021, Edward and Christine Clare Brennan purchased the Benn Conger Inn. This is the story of our family history and coming home again. Christine and her two brothers, Peter and Joseph and sister, Lorianne, grew up in this beautiful 1921 Colonial Revival.

The Early 1900s

Our story began in the early 1900s, when two young Italian ladies, Carmela, aged 18 and her sister Caterina, aged 15, set sail on their own from Marsala, Sicily to Brooklyn, NY. They were sent by their parents to live with their father's mother " for a better life". They earned their wages sewing in a Brooklyn factory.

Carmela, our maternal grandmother, was introduced to Joseph Ardito, also from Sicily; they married and had two children, Margaret Ann, our mother, who was born April 12,1926 and a son Benjamin who was born a few years later.

Margaret Ann was the first in the family to go to college. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Albany State and her master's degree from Cornell University. She taught at Groton High School and later became a guidance counselor. She met our father, Robert Clare, when she was teaching in Genoa, her first job out of college. They married on New Year's Day in 1950 and had four children, Peter, Christine, Lorianne and Joseph.

The Mid-1900s

    In 1949, the family bought Don's restaurant in Groton (later named Farrells). Carmela cooked Italian food in Don's kitchen for the Smith Corona factory workers and Robert (Bob) tended bar. Her authentic Italian cooking was loved by all.

In 1953, the family purchased the 1921 Colonial Revival at 206 W Cortland Street where they raised their four children. Those 18 years growing up on "Dog Hill" were magical. We played outside from dawn to dusk with great friends, so many of whom live close by today. Our cousins, the Newmans, came to visit regularly and while the adults sipped expresso and shared stories of their day, the three cousins and four of us played outside on the eighteen acres of grounds, a total paradise for young kids. There are countless numbers of stories and wonderful memories that will be treasured and shared through the generations. One such story was the never-ending search for the treasures left behind by the notorious gangster Dutch Shultz, bootlegger and racketeer, often "holed up" at the mansion until his demise in 1935.

The family lived on the first floor with three apartments on the second floor that helped to finance the cost of such a large property. In 1971, the costs became too challenging with four kids in college or about to go, and we sold our family home.

The Inn Today

    In October 2021, exactly 50 years after the family sold our home and exactly 100 years after the Colonial Revival was built by Benn Conger, the property is again under the ownership of our family. In addition, we purchased the "Dempsey" house next door, collectively known as the Benn Conger Inn.

The six Dempsey house suites have been available for guests since we bought the property. The main house has undergone an eight-month restoration and opened in June 2022 for overnight guests in the four suites and for special events. We were so fortunate to use all local contractors who did an outstanding job on the restoration.

About the Owners

We are proud of our history and proud that the Inn is owned and run by our family with its significant experience. Edward and Christine Brennan, now retired, had successful careers in big business. Pete and Sherry Clare are the entrepreneurs who built and run the very successful Turkey Trot acres in Candor, NY. Their son Drew is the GM of the Inn with a degree in hospitality from Ohio State and 14 years' experience in the industry.

Mallory Clare Grinion, with a BS in Hospitality from Syracuse University, is our Marketing advisor. Our cousin Chef Bobby Todd prepares our fabulous meals, and our cousin Shelley Newman is our Innkeeper. Joseph and Patty Clare and Lori Clare Wasilenko are family advisors.

 Please consider the Benn Conger as the perfect hideout for all your room accommodations and special events. The family is thrilled to have come home, and we look forward to welcoming you to our special place.