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Rogersville's Hale Springs Inn scheduled to open June 15

Jeff Bobo • May 10, 2009 at 12:00 AM

ROGERSVILLE — There’s not one stick of furniture inside the 185-year-old Hale Springs Inn, and the contract for the proprietors hasn’t been signed.

But that didn’t stop the Rogersville Heritage Association from making the inn’s first room reservation in more than a decade — for July 3 in the Andrew Jackson Suite. That might be a popular date at the inn, the night before Rogersville’s extremely popular Fourth of July festival at the City Park.

The renovation isn’t complete at the Hale Springs Inn where three presidents stayed including Jackson, Andrew Johnson and James Polk.

Still, there are also two weddings booked in the main dining room for late June as well as a couple of corporate conferences.

RHA Director Patricia Humbert said last week the Hale Springs Inn is now booking reservations.

CLICK THE BOX BELOW for a video report.

After six years of planning, scrounging for money and setback after setback, the RHA’s official opening for lodging at the Hale Springs Inn is tentatively scheduled for June 15, with the restaurant tentatively scheduled to open June 16.

The key word is “tentatively.” Most of the heavy lifting has been completed in the renovation, but a lot of details remain.

As of Thursday when the Times-News toured the inn with Humbert, workers were painting, installing trim and fixtures, and preparing for an upcoming elevator installation.

The biggest hurdle to be surpassed before the inn can open may be a massive cleanup, and then moving all the furniture from storage in the U.S. Bank building back into the nine suites and the dining rooms.

“We’ve got a lot of cleaning and it looks like we might have to refinish the floors,” Humbert said. “Lots of little details. But I think everything is coming together. We’re seeing a lot of progress every day, and there’s light at the end of the tunnel.”

The kitchen, located in the new rear addition, has also yet to be equipped, both with stoves and refrigerators. It has also yet to be equipped with an operator to provide the cooks and wait staff.

Humbert said the operators have already been chosen by the RHA board of directors, but their identities must remain a mystery until the final contracts are signed. She couldn’t say when those contracts will be finalized.

“Any minute now,” Humbert said. “It’s in the hands of the lawyers. We’re definitely working with people who will be running the inn and the restaurant. They do have about 10 years experience running a four diamond bed and breakfast. They seem very gifted and very talented in terms of knowing what to do with the inn in terms of making it hospitable.

“They also share our dream that while we have brought the Hale Springs Inn up to present day standards of comfort we can maintain the historical authenticity of the inn.”

The restaurant will be called “McKinney’s Restaurant” after the attorney who built the inn in 1824, Humbert said. She also let it slip that the chef was trained in Savannah, Ga., and specializes in French cuisine.

“You’ll still be able to get a hamburger,” she added.

The bar, which will serve beer and wine, will be in the old kitchen. A small dining room is where the old sweet shop was located.

In February of 2008, the 1870 rear addition collapsed. The new addition is nearly completed and houses the kitchen on the first floor. Brick from the 1870 fallen structure was used to face the new building. It doesn’t match the original building’s brick, but as Humbert noted, it never did.

“They were built 50 years apart,” she said. “But the fact that we have the original brick on the new structure really adds to the authenticity. When the old addition fell we would have preferred to just leave the original building standing alone, but we had to have a place to put the kitchen.

“We’re just really happy with the new rear addition. It looks like it could have been standing there for 140 years and it’s so much prettier than the old building. It’s aesthetically pleasing.”

To book reservations at the Hale Springs Inn call the RHA at (423) 272-1961. The inn’s Web site is expected to be up in four to six weeks.

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