Our History The Clarkson Inn

The Clarkson Inn has seen many famous guests pass through its doors during its three-and-a-half decade history. Adam Sandler traversed the hallways, signing autographs. Dennis Miller donned a wig and glasses to maintain his anonymity. Legend has it that actor and Clarkson alumnus M. Emmet Walsh ’58, known for his cantankerous personality, told a desk clerk to “go smoke a beer and drink a cigar.”

Other well-known guests have included Renee Fleming, the Manhattan Transfer, Judy Collins, Goo Goo Dolls, Sidney Biddle Barrows, Bobby McFerrin, Harry Belafonte, Robert Vaughn, Bobcat Goldthwait, Adam West, Chubby Checker, George Carlin, the Harlem Globetrotters, Pauly Shore, and scores of professional hockey players.

During the Ice Storm of 1998, the Clarkson Inn hosted many local residents whose homes were without power and Niagara Mohawk employees that operated three shifts per day for several weeks to restore power lines in the North Country.

Local personalities have enjoyed the Inn as well. Helen Snell Cheel loved to sit in the breakfast room and visit with the staff while she enjoyed her Danish. The late renowned conductor Brock McElheran and wife Jane enjoyed breakfast with their friends for many years. Late Clarkson alumnus Ernie Richmond ’42 and wife Connie came to visit at least twice a year and regaled everyone with their stories of Clarkson past. 

Many Clarkson University alumni spent their honeymoons at the Inn and return to celebrate their anniversaries.

And, of course, the Inn’s staff has watched as parents returned to visit their sons and daughters during their years at the local colleges and universities. In fact, six of the Inn’s staff have more than 20 years of service.

While it is now a well-known destination for business travelers, tourists and visitors to local colleges and universities, the Inn was stalled on the drawing board of the Potsdam Urban Renewal Agency in the mid-1980s, when Clarkson was invited to join the project to assure its successful completion. Clarkson’s Alumni Council and Board of Trustees guided the project through its fall 1984 groundbreaking and to successful completion in fall 1985. While the hotel is no longer owned by Clarkson University, we continue to host alumni and visitors of both the college and the local area. We look forward to many more years of continued hospitality in the city of Potsdam, NY.