History Meets Luxury
Georgia’s Oldest Hotels and Inns Are Gems from Yesteryear
By Tony Jenkins
Learning about Georgia’s history can be a relaxing and even romanticadventure. There are many hotels and inns throughout Georgia where history, luxury and Southern charm intersect. Encompassing both grandeur and quaint, elegant charm, here are just a few of Georgia’s historic hospitality venues.
The 1842 Inn
A quaint bed and breakfast in Macon, the 1842 Inn was a home built by the city’s former mayor, John Gresham, in, well, you can guess the year. There are 19 guest rooms found within the main, Greek revival-style antebellum house and the adjoining Victorian cottage, as well as four hospitality parlors. Antique paintings, oriental carpets, heart of pine flooring and 12-foot ceilings accentuate each room, and many include fireplaces and whirlpools. To bolster the relaxing and romantic vibe, there’s a 17-columned wrap-around verandah where you can sip on iced tea (or other beverage) while overlooking the courtyard.
The Fitzpatrick Hotel
After a fire decimated much of Washington, Georgia’s public square in 1895, brothers J.H. and T.M. Fitzpatrick returned to the city, between Athens and Augusta, and began construction on what would become The Fitzpatrick Hotel. After opening in 1898, the historic hotel went through several ownership and name changes, and was eventually closed in 1952. More than 50 years later, after the hotel was added to the National Register of Historic Places, The Fitzpatrick was restored and reopened. By using old photos, original memorabilia and purchasing period antiques, the new owners retained the hotel’s original Victorian grandeur and charm, while including modern-day conveniences like HDTVs and Wi-Fi access.
What’s better than one mansion? Two adjacent Regency-Italianate mansions have been turned into a four-diamond award-winning bed and breakfast in a charming residential area of Savannah. The two mansions that now make up The Gastonian were built in 1868 and exemplify the Southern charm one would expect from a history-laden city like Savannah. From the grand décor and period antiques to the fireplaces and tranquil gardens, The Gastonian was recognized by Conde Nast Traveler magazine as one of the finest places to stay in the world. It’s a great location, too: The Gastonian is in the Savannah historic district within walking distance of Forsyth Park, Colonial Park Cemetery and several of the city squares.
The Georgian Terrace
Opening for business in 1911, The Georgian Terrace is located in Midtown directly across from another Atlanta landmark, the Fox Theatre. The elegant hotel has hosted an impressive guest list over the years, including Presidents Calvin Coolidge and Warren Harding, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Walt Disney and Charles Lindbergh. In 1939, the Terrace hosted the premiere gala for the movie “Gone With The Wind,” and stars like Clark Gable and Vivian Leigh were right at home amid the turreted corners, floor-to-ceiling windows, gorgeous chandeliers and wrap-around verandas. In the 1970s, the hotel played host to musical acts such as Bruce Springsteen, Kiss and Billy Joel in its Electric Ballroom. After avoiding demolition in the 1980s by being listing on the National Register of Historic Places, there was a brief stint as an apartment building. In the early 1990s, The Georgian Terrace reopened as a luxury hotel. Now billed as “Atlanta’s Modern Classic,” the Southern charm remains, but is now complemented by modern features, including award-wining fine dining at the Livingston Restaurant & Bar.
Jekyll Island Club Hotel
People like J.P. Morgan, William Rockefeller, Joseph Pulitzer and William K. Vanderbilt played roles in the history of the Jekyll Island Club Hotel, which was founded in 1886 as a private club that included members from some of the world’s wealthiest families. Designated a historic landmark in 1978 and reopened as a resort hotel in 1985, it is now one of the top resorts in Georgia. In addition to a history tour, the hotel includes two restaurants, a café, a pub, a swimming pool and a nearby private beach club, among other amenities. The location, on one of the State’s four coastal barrier islands, provides a lush and unspoiled backdrop for the elegance and Victorian charm you’ll find at every turn. Even if you don’t stay the night, it’s worth a visit for the architecture and to soak up the historic ambiance.
The Piedmont Hotel
When it opened in 1876, The Piedmont Hotel in Gainesville, Georgia, was a three-story, 36-room, u-shaped structure owned and operated by Confederate General James Longstreet. Throughout the years, Longstreet hosted several high-profile guests, including generals Joseph Johnston and Daniel Sickles, writer Joel Chandler Harris, and President Woodrow Wilson, whose daughter, Jessie, was born on the ground floor of the hotel. Today, it’s the only floor of the hotel that remains, after a last-minute decision saved it from being demolished with the rest of the hotel in 1918. However, it has been renovated and is headquarters of The Longstreet Society, open Tuesday through Saturday.