“We’ve all been waiting for this day for a long, long time.”
Mayor Charlene Fancher shared the sentiments of many in the Red Bay community as she welcomed the crowd gathered around the entrance to the Hotel Red Bay – which officially held its grand opening Friday.
The hotel was purchased by Mark Dempsey and brought to new life by Emily Strickland.
“I’m humbled to be a part of this,” said Strickland, who fell in love with the hotel years before she ever imagined she herself who remodel and run it. “This is all about the people of Red Bay. I want this hotel to represent you well.
“I’m so excited we get to have a grand reopening of Hotel Red Bay after all these years.”
The hotel is still a work in progress, with a coffee shop planned for the future and a hotel restaurant to open the beginning of May. Grand reopening attendees took the opportunity to amble through the hotel and peek into chic, comfortable guest rooms, all decorated with Strickland’s keen eye for design and boasting meaningful touches that honor the people – past and present – of Red Bay.
The First Night’s Stay was booked up for Hotel Red Bay. One couple staying the night spent their honeymoon in the hotel years ago. Fancher, who coincidentally celebrated her birthday Friday, was another of the guests for the inaugural night.
“I am over-the-top excited,” Fancher said. “We imagined and wished and anticipated the hotel opening, but I didn’t dream I’d be staying here the first night.” But it was an opportunity she couldn’t pass up. “We take so much pride in our past … Red Bay loves and cherishes our past.”
“It’s Red Bay’s history, and we all want a little piece of that,” said Chamber Executive Director Cassie Medley. And, “it’s going to be more rooms for these people to stay in who come for Tiffin from all over the country and the world.”
“Red Bay is really good at preserving history,” added Emily Mays, Chamber Board member and Community Spirit Bank marketing director. “It’s one of the few cities that really makes it a point to continually preserve the pieces of history we have here, and this is a testament to the devotion we have to preserving those pieces of history.
“The bank opened here in 1908 in this lobby. So it’s a tribute to that, to have it preserved. It’s beautiful.”