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Historic Glens Falls mansion finally becoming a restaurant

The former McEchron House.
The former McEchron House.

Will their appearances on TV food shows help the operators of an in-development restaurant succeed in Glens Falls? The restaurant, to be called Morgan & Co., will be run by Rebecca Newell-Butters, who has appeared on "Chopped," and husband Stephen Butters, who has appeared on "Sweet Genius." The venue is the former McEchron House, looked at for years as a potential commercial site at Ridge and Maple streets. The name is taken from the name of William McEchron's logging company.

Newell-Butters, a native of Glens Falls, was chef at The Beehive, a chic South End restaurant in Boston, for six years. Butters owned Butter Cafe and Bakery in the Boston suburb Walpole, which he closed to move to Glens Falls for the new venture. He is a graduate of the Cambridge, Mass., School of Culinary Arts and has several name Boston restaurants on his resume.

The 2½-story stone and frame McEchron mansion was built in 1891 by the logging magnate. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. The restaurant is expected to open in mid-August. It will have 163 seats, including the outdoor front porch seating that is opposite City Park.

As I reported back in December 2011, the city had approved the sale of the building, but closing on the property took months, and turning it into a restaurant obviously was a long time coming. In addition to the Butterses, the financial partners include John Carr, a real estate developer and owner of the Adirondack Pub & Brewery in Lake George; Mike Laney, an accountant from Hudson Falls, and Newell-Butters' father, Ron Newell, the city attorney. The group bought the mansion from the city for $200,000.

The future of the McEchron House has undergone a variety of possibilities. The city has been trying to get it redeveloped for a half-dozen or more years. At one point, in 2008, it had agreed to sell it to a Bolton Landing restaurant group that wanted to turn it into an upscale steakhouse. However, conflict over how much interior reservation could be done scuttled that plan. Under the current plan, only the first floor will be used as a restaurant with second and third-floor apartments.

An advance peek at the Morgan & Co. menu reveals a variety ranging from tandoori-spiced dishes to Berkshire pork chops, Carolina barbecue and high end sandwiches. Newell-Butters, who also has a strong liking for seafood after her years in the Boston market, calls it "comfort food with a Mediterranean-Bohemian flair."

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