To the editor: Chester’s Hugging Bear Inn closing

After almost four decades, the Hugging Bear Inn & Shoppe on Main Street in Chester is closing. Located next to the historic Academy Building and across from the Fullerton Inn, the Hugging Bear has been one of the foundational businesses of the Chester Village Green for as long as most of us can remember.

Founded by Georgette Thomas in 1982, the iconic inn has been a mainstay of the Chester economy. Georgette was one of the founders of the Chester Innkeepers Association and worked hard to promote the town. She passed away in 2014.

Many remember the shop as the place to buy your first teddy bear. The three-room shop was packed with bears – and other stuffed animals – and at one time bragged of having over 10,000 bears. Local children remembered it as the place where beanie babies were given out at Halloween. Many came to have their picture taken with the various bears that were found in the gardens, porches and shop.

The original farm was established by the Hadley family in the 1820s. The town had the property briefly in the early 1960s when the old Victorian house was used for schoolroom overflow and many old timers remember attending classes there. Alison Garfield had an antique showroom in the years before the inn was established. Many know the place for the historic horse and carriage barn and Queen Anne Victorian architecture.

The inn was known for having teddy bears in every room. It was very popular with teddy bear collectors, teddy bear artists, those who traveled with bears, and families with small children.

Laura Thomas

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