I grew up in Wise, Virginia, a small mountain community on the western edge of the state. In those days our town was so remote we had only one red light, no movie theaters and no fast food restaurants at all, unless you count our locally owned Dipsy Doodle Drive-In (which happened to have the very best banana milkshakes ever).
What we did have was The Inn, a majestic hotel built in 1910 that anchored Main Street and gave an air of sophistication and a bit of liveliness to our little world. In addition to guest rooms, The Inn featured a large dining room, a cafe called the Coffee Cup, and a tavern and grill called the Tap Room. I still remember what a thrill it was the nights Daddy took us all there for dinner; The Tap Room was dark, romantic, and smelled of pepper-spiced steak.
I also remember roaming the halls and back stairways of The Inn, Harriet the Spy-style, when my mother sent me to play with a little girl who came there in the summer to visit her grandmother. My friend, Suzann, reminds me the grandmother lived in the Penthouse of the Inn, something about which I have only a vague recollection. What I do remember, however, is how grand and mysterious it all seemed–and how terrified I was that we would get caught.
Sadly, in the 90s The Inn began to fall into disrepair and closed as the area’s economy, based largely on the coal industry, began to decline. It was heartbreaking to watch. Paint peeled from every surface; the steps leading to the grand front porch were so brittle and broken they were roped off with caution tape.
We heard rumors from time to time of investors interested in saving the old hotel. But year after year, trip after trip to enjoy the Wise Fall Fling with my wonderful Wise Women, there never seemed to be any action.
And then last week I see a photo roll past on my Facebook wall. It catches my eye, and so I click.
Wow. Wow. Wow!
There it is, The Inn at Wise, fully restored and open again for business. The 45,000 square foot facility features 48 guest rooms, the Colonial Restaurant, the Corner Diner, and the Pub & Tap Room. (I’m especially happy about that.)
I am overjoyed! I am also so grateful to the people who worked so hard to make this happen. It’s an incredible blessing for our little town, and I can’t wait to make a reservation!
A grand thanks to my friends Tim and Angel Cox for allowing me to use their photos of The Inn. The pair have long been a treasure to all of us who love those Southwest Virginia mountains and the people who live there, for no one has done more to document the rare beauty of that part of the world than Tim and Angel. See more of their work here.
30 Days of Joy
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