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NEW LIFE FOR OLD LINDEN LANDMARK
Tuesday, 16 October 2007
By LOREN BARDEN
A Linden landmark—the old Staley Hotel on Main Street—has come alive once again under the thoughtful and careful vision of new owners.
The Review visited with Michael Dumont, owner of the newly remodeled Commodore Hotel in Linden, to discuss the future of the re-opened hotel. The hotel was originally built in 1939 and named The Staley Hotel under the ownership of Bob Staley, also of Linden.
However, it eventually went out of business and was put on the real estate market. Via the internet, Michael and Kathy, his wife of seven years, discovered the property. Originally from Rhode Island, the Dumonts moved to Tennessee and purchased a second home after Kathy fell in love with Linden. A real estate developer, Michael always thought the hotel was a very attractive building and had potential with a central location on Main Street.
"I have been a real estate developer for twenty years and I have always been able to see beneath the peeling paint and plaster and dirt and grime and look beyond that to see a diamond in the rough," Michael said.
They knew as soon as they saw it that they would convert it back into a hotel and decided to name it The Commodore after Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, the namesake of Perry County.
"We just felt a connection with Commodore Perry because he was from Rhode Island too and decided it would be a great name for the hotel," Dumont explained.
Once the name was chosen, they began the renovation process. Dumont explained, "One of our biggest challenges during construction was that we were renovating a hotel with 14 rooms that only services 6 bathrooms. So one of the first things we had to try to figure out was how to get a bathroom in each room. Well, after we ended up changing things around, we were able to give up three rooms to designate bathrooms in each individual room. We also turned some bathrooms around and remodeled them. We installed a Jacuzzi tub in the Commodore’s Quarters (one of the upscale rooms the hotel offers) as well."
The Commodore presently boasts eleven rooms. Of those eleven, two are suites. During the renovation process, the DuMonts also decided to add modern amenities found in most luxury hotels. Each room comes standard with its own bathroom as well satellite television and high-speed wireless internet access. The owners also claim the hotel is "earth-friendly" by using low-energy bulbs and cleaning products with fewer chemicals.
They installed a state-of-the art hydro cooling system which is ozone-friendly and more efficient because the unit does not run unless a guest attempts to use it. They also took necessary measures to ensure each guest’s safety by installing fire alarms in every room.
Further, the Dumonts decided that the hotel would be a total non-smoking establishment.
"I’m used to building things up to code so safety is a major issue with any job, but especially this one," Michael remarked.
Before the official opening, Michael and Kathy both stayed in the hotel so that they could take a first-hand look at what would appeal to guests and travelers and make the best of their accommodations. Michael described the experience, "Right now Kathy and I are taking a hands-on approach and have stayed overnight ourselves to critique the different aspects the hotel has to offer."
The hotel has a general manager, as well as an outside staff, and Michael and Kathy both continue to work at the hotel as well.
"We’re still only an eleven or twelve-room operation and because were small we have a lot of cross-training so a lot of the staff works in many different areas to ensure the flow of the hotel," Michael said.
A restaurant manager has been hired and will also be taught hotel operations. The restaurant plans will follow sometime in the future. Other future plans also include adding at least one more room on the main level of the hotel, which would be handicap-accessible.
Michael added that the couple tried to preserve as much original woodwork in the building as possible.
"We found a couple of interesting things during renovation. Some pieces we removed from the wall were stamped Property of Staley Hotel so he [Bob Staley] must have had it shipped in from somewhere. It is so interesting and adds so much character to the history of the hotel."
The hotel also has all of the original hardwood floors as well.
"I have heard quite a few stories about the history of the hotel; people have so many memories of it because it has been here for so long," Michael remarked. "We feel like we’re tour guides when we get to showcase the building. We’ve received a lot of positive feedback from the local businesses; they have embraced us and everyone we have spoken with seems excited that the hotel is open again."
Michael confirmed that community support is vital to the success of a small business: "We need to have the town be proud of this historic building and to support us as we open this business."
The Commodore has already welcomed its first customers, two guests who stayed for eight days and described the service as "very helpful" and added that "we look forward to returning."