After Flooding and Fires, it's Still a Survivor
Inn Being Returned to 1920s Splendor
The Index-Journal | Greenwood, SC | June 16, 2008
The first stage of construction might more closely resemble a demolition, but on May 13 the Historic
Ware Shoals Inn began its renaissance.
"Right now we're tearing things out still," said Evan Jones, of James B. Jones Construction, the contractors in charge of the inn's restoration.
A lot of the insulation in the walls was moldy, so most everything has to be torn apart and put back together, Jones said. But for a building that survived two fires and a flood, the facility is in pretty good structural shape, he said.
In ripping things apart, the workers found a couple of Coca-Cola bottles in the walls from the old Greenwood bottling company, Jones said.
There are also subtle signs of the building's age, but it is impressive nonetheless.
"I'm always fascinated to see how they did things in the 1920s," Jones said. Craftsmanship is the biggest difference, he added. Now people just try to do things as fast and cheaply as they can.
The Ware Shoals Inn was built in 1923 by Ware Shoals Manufacturing Co. (later renamed Riegel Textile Corp.). The mill used the inn to house traveling salesmen and others associated with the business. Single teachers would stay there as well, said Mayor George Rush.
"By 1923 standards, it was a right swanky place," Rush said.
The town bought the building in October 2003 to keep it from being destroyed, but it was soon relinquished to Integrity Development LLC, a construction company based in Charlotte that has decided to return the building to all of its 1923 glory.
Frank Warlick, of Integrity Development, said the goal for the Ware Shoals project is to make the building as much like a 1923 version of itself as possible, right down to the shingles.
"The manufacturer who made the original shingles went broke in the Depression, but we found a place in Wisconsin that picked up the pattern," Warlick said. "We're not remodelers, we're restoration people."
The only significant difference in the building will be the absence of a steam boiler and radiators for heat and there also will be air conditioning, Warlick said.
It would probably be quicker and cheaper to demolish the old inn and rebuild a new structure, but Warlick said it was worth the extra time and money to preserve history.
"I think when it's finished, it's really going to be quite a place," he said.
In November 2007, the inn was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Warlick said this was for the building's protection; now it can never be torn down, and since it is in the protection of the National Park Service, it will never fall into disrepair again.
When the inn is completed, it will have 23 apartments, some with one bedroom and some two, as well as a large common room and foyer area. Warlick said the building has generated lots of interest and is already close to being fully rented, even though the first model won't be ready until Oct. 31.