In December 1955, fire destroyed much of the Inn, devastating not only the Sudbury community, but also Longfellow loyalists and schoolchildren worldwide who appreciated the Inn’s cultural significance. Because the Inn’s Board of Directors included Ford family representatives, Ford Foundation resources were quickly mobilized, and well-respected architects and historic preservationists were hired to restore the property.
For the Ford representatives, the time had come to end their involvement with the Inn. They transitioned governance of the Inn to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which managed the property during the post-fire years. In 1960 the National Trust passed responsibility to a local Board of Trustees. With no further support from the Ford interests and with no endowment for ongoing maintenance, the Inn had to become successfully self-sustaining in a short period of time.