The Perry (1855)

The building at 85 Amity Street in Amherst was built in 1855 as a two-story residence. In 1898, Egbert Perry began taking in boarders and in 1912 the building, by then known as the Hotel Perry, was expanded two more stories. In 1938, it was acquired by William Richters, who had owned Drake’s Restaurant in Times Square. He renamed the hotel the Drake, after the famous New York hotel of the same name. It continued to be known locally as the Drake, even after later owners changed its name to the Village Inn in 1959. The Drake was home to a legendary basement bar called the Rathskeller, a popular student hangout whose infamous reputation eventually led to the sale of the building in 1985 and its conversion into apartments under the name the Perry. Student reaction at the time can be judged by the still visible graffiti on the nearby Amherst Cinema Building, which declares “Save the Drake” and “For Willy [the Drake’s bartender] For Humanity!”

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