Taking a reporter and a photographer through the Morgan State House, owner Chuck Kuhtic stopped in each room to adjust the decor. The vase on the mantle pushed back 2 inches. The lampshade in the 3 Garden room was crooked a little to the right, then a little too left. Perfect.
Those types of small-but-constant changes Kuhtic and his staff make the shared and private spaces in the Albany brownstone-turned-inn feel effortless. Since Kuhtic bought the house bordering Washington Park in 1995, it’s now become a six-suite home away from home for politicians, various dignitaries and celebrities. (Ask him about the time Yo-Yo Ma came to stay when he helped reopen the Palace in 2003, and talked to another patron for an hour by the front window.)
One could walk down the block of State Street where the Morgan State House sits and assume it’s a personal residence. There is not a lot of signage signifying that it’s an inn at all, until you’re ready to knock on the interior door. That’s intentional, Kuhtic said. This is not a brand-name hotel.
“I wanted to have a place that was confident and cool, yet elegant,” he said. He wants the front room on the first floor to be a place where one can read a book at the window seat. (It’s an easy picture to paint.)
He’s able to create that feel with neutral colors and textures, with a slightly eclectic feel. No two rooms look the same, but things tie the inn together, from the darker-wood furniture — shopped from various stores and sales — to the creamy-colored bedspreads. Small, vintage details peek through, though: The hinges on the first-floor bathroom door, for one, and the carved-out flowers on the bannisters of the main staircase.
“It’s not about the furniture,” he said. “It’s about the house. That’s the aesthetic.”
There are three rooms to the front of the house and three toward the back. They’re designated by which view you get from the windows: Garden, or Park. The park side is obvious; the garden side faces a fenced-in space in which a friend has arranged the flower beds and ivy since Kuhtic has owned it.
The Morgan State House was home to Alice Morgan Wright, an artist, sculptor and a well known New York suffragette who helped found the New York League of Women Voters. She lived in the building until her death in 1975.
Right before the inn opened, the big technological advances included “computer modems” and fax machines, according to a November 1995 story in the Times Union. Now it’s making sure the Wi-Fi connections are up to speed with his clientele. He gets most people from out-of-town, or international guests; word of mouth or internet reviews bring them in, but repeat guests are often seen.
The rooms change often in small ways, from rearranged furniture to new pieces cycling in. But in some instances, the changes are larger. A library used to connect the two second-floor rooms; that has now been renovated into a bathroom for one, and a reading nook for another. Both still have shelves. Kuhtic said the next big project will be to renovate the fourth-floor rooms. They need an update, he said; more than just a tilt of a shade.