Downtown Inn holding open house

Published 7:00 pm Sunday, November 27, 2011

Local investors will breathe a sigh ofrelief as an eagerly awaited renovation project nears itscompletion in downtown Brookhaven.

    The Inn on Whitworth will be open to the public for the first timeat an open house event Tuesday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the newhotel and apartment hybrid on Whitworth Avenue.

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    “The open house is a chance to come in and see what we’ve done,”investor Jeff Doremus said. “We want people to see the property andhow it’s changed. A lot of people haven’t been in here in a longtime, but they remember how it used to be. I think they’ll bepleasantly surprised at its character. It’s unique.”

    The theme and catchphrase of the project is, “Where art andarchitecture meet Southern hospitality,” and the developers haveheld true their vision as evidenced in their nearly finishedproject.

    Kim Sessums, a local artist, served as design consultant throughoutthe Inn’s development and commissioned several pieces that adornthe walls of the downstairs lobby, hallways and rooms.

    “The artwork was created specifically for the interior of thisbuilding,” Sessums said. “I wanted the artwork to tell a story.Something that is narrative, but still looks abstract. We wantpeople to walk inside and think this is something different butlike the atmosphere and the feel of it.”

    Additional pieces of art come from renowned photographers CharlieWaite, Irving Penn and Ansel Adams, as well as some pieces fromMagnolia artist Ed Williford, Sessums said.

    “We’ll be putting together an artists booklet with informationabout each artist and his work that’s here in the building,”Sessums added.

    The artwork and modern design of the furniture and layout coupleuniquely with various historical factors the investors compliedwith per the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

    “Our goal was to restore the building through a historicalpreservation program,” Sessums said. “The pine hardwood floors areoriginal. The skylight in the lobby is original. We want to keepthe historic value of the building originally built in 1902.”

    The front of the building is compliant with the its historic designas well. Also fireplaces and mantles in the upstairs apartments areoriginal, although non-functioning, Sessums said.

    “We want to have the public walk in and experience the historywhile still having a cool, modern artistic style for a buildingthat just happens to be on the railroad tracks in Brookhaven,Miss.,” Sessums said.

    The specs of the hybrid residential/commercial lodging endeavorinclude six hotel rooms, a lobby and kitchen area equipped withmodern appliances on the ground level.

    Sessums said the hotel rooms are connected via doors and act assuites if large families want to stay and host events such asreunions, receptions and weddings.

    “They can cook for themselves in the kitchen, have parties,receptions and such,” Sessums said.

    Some reservations have already been made.

    “We’ve received reservations for hotel rooms for December andJanuary and months after in 2012,” added Doremus, who expects amid-December grand opening.

    The upstairs is laid out as six residential apartments, five ofwhich are already rented out, Doremus said.

    “There are already five renters for upstairs,” he said. “Thesepeople signed on before even having seen what their apartmentswould look like prior to them being completed.”

    Other investors in the project include Johnny Lynch, ShannonPatterson, Richard Rushing and Steven Mills, and Doremus said theyall got in it for the same reasons.

    “We felt it was one of the missing links for downtown Brookhaven,”he said. “It is one of the missing items to round off what wealready have to offer downtown as a community.”

    Sessums added that Lynch, who was out of town for the Thanksgivingholidays, wanted to undertake the project for the city.

    “It’s a private endeavor, yes,” Sessums said. “But it’s good fordowntown. And the entire time the building has been renovated, ithas given jobs for people in a tough economy.”

    “It’s a unique, non-chain type of deal,” Doremus said. “The reasonwe all got in it was to meet the vision of ‘Where art andarchitecture meet Southern hospitality,’ and we’re excited forpeople to see it and know what they think.”