DAILY LEADER / RHONDA DUNAWAY / Violet Palmer (left) enjoys coffee and conversation with Ed Williford and Clint Alford in the upstairs living room of the historic Inez Hotel on Monticello Street.
DAILY LEADER / RHONDA DUNAWAY / Violet Palmer (left) enjoys coffee and conversation with Ed Williford and Clint Alford in the upstairs living room of the historic Inez building on Monticello Street.

Bonds of friendship: Inez residents enjoy ‘friendship club’ Tuesdays

Published 10:18pm Saturday, November 23, 2013

The historic downtown hotel at 104 E. Monticello St. known as The Inez, now converted into apartments, houses years of wisdom in its tenants, and years of history of downtown Brookhaven from the early 20th century.

On any given Tuesday afternoon, folks like David Fisher; retired realtor Paul Cory, the first manager of The Inez; Edna Sones; retired accountant from Florida, Violet Palmer; new hotel managers, Sallie and Ed Williford; Arlington School graduate Inez Thornhill; and retired teacher Betty B. Evans, will be sharing good conversation, desserts, tea and coffee. Fisher and Cory said they rarely miss the gathering.

“We’ve known these ladies for 40 years,” Cory said of Sones and Evans, “We come to visit ’cause we love the cake!” Evans said, laughing with the ladies.

Built in 1904, the three-story brick building is in the National Register citing its architectural and social significance. It became an apartment complex in 1989, catering mostly to older tenants – though, these days Williford said nearly half the tenants are under the age of 35.

“We love our young people,” Sallie Williford said, “But we don’t get to see them as much because everyone of them stays busy with work.”

Evans, 89, said Tuesdays are about new and old friends.

“This is kind of like our friendship club,” Evans said. “It’s a chance to visit and get to know new tenants. We just talk and have a good time.”

The group of tenants and friends say they have a pact about the Tuesday afternoon get-togethers – no conversation about health problems. “Ha!” tenant Don Paterson explains.

“Mrs. Williford forbids “organ recitals,”" he said, “we do not sit around and recite facts about our organs.” Paterson laughed and then was also quick to claim seniority, too.

“I am the longest surviving resident,” he said. “I’ve lived here 20 years. It’s really great to live with people your own age.”

The Willifords, who live onsite at the Inez, have been the building’s managers since 2008. That’s the year Sones had to retire for health reasons. Williford said that age is part of what bonds the variety of tenants who come to live there.

“Most people don’t know anyone in the house when they first arrive,” she said, “but, everyone comes together – like in a village – there’s a lot of different personalities coming together and they’re bonding because we’re all in the same age bracket.”

She said that in The Inez, camaraderie is also built on sharing.

“There is a lot sharing of things people aren’t used to sharing in the homes they came from,” Williford said, “like thermostats, washers and dryers, and the use of the kitchen. And, so we have to learn to share again.”

Take a virtual tour of the Inez Hotel at www.theinez.com. “It’s a restrained example of Romanesque Revival architecture – a style that was popular in the first quarter of the 20th century,” the website says. To learn about room availabilities call Williford in The Inez office at (601) 835-0855.