Thursday, September 4, 2008

Wanted: Innkeepers

As part of what seems to have become our Small Town Tour, we traveled to Rogersville, TN just to walk its streets. About 20 miles from Greeneville, Rogersville, settled in the early 1780’s, is one of the oldest in Tennessee and like many older small towns appears to be fighting to maintain a viable downtown.

The anchor of the town is the Hawkins County Courthouse, described as one of the South’s most photographed buildings. It is the oldest original courthouse (built in 1836) still in use in the state.

Just across Main Street from the Courthouse in the Town Center is the Masonic Temple, site of the oldest continuously operating lodge in the state.

There was a time in our travels and overnight stays in Bed and Breakfast homes and inns that we thought that someday we would like to own and operate a B&B. We took a serious look into buying the former Rising Sun Inn in Blue Bell, PA in the early 80’s, but decided against that idea after thinking about the demands on innkeepers.

However, upon seeing the Hale Spring Inn, a Federal-style structure built in 1824, we briefly entertained thoughts of becoming innkeepers. The Inn was closed in the late 1990’s, and about four years ago the Rogersville Heritage Association received a grant to restore the Inn. When the grant was awarded, it was said that “Reopening the inn is the single most significant factor in reviving Rogersville’s economy.” At the time of our visit, the Inn had not yet re-opened.

As we walked the streets of downtown Rogersville, we were puzzled to find a quilt pattern prominently displayed on what we believed to be the Courthouse annex. Whether or not this is the first in a series of "courthouse quilts" remains to be seen, but, nevertheless, it was a very attractive quilt.

There were very few people in the downtown streets as we strolled to the parking lot, . . . but we couldn’t help feeling we were being watched.

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