We’d left Montgomery, Alabama early in morning and driven two and a half hours to Andersonville. We’d toured Andersonville and Plains and by the time we got to our hotel in Americus, Georgia, we were exhausted. We took a second to admire the grand lobby before dragging ourselves to the room.
There was no way we were going out to search for a restaurant, so we agreed to have dinner in the hotel dining room. We took a quick look in the bar first (because Camille of Wine and History Revisited gave it a good review; I also recommend that you read her posts about Andersonville, while you’re there) but they were completely jammed. So we made our way into their formal dining room, which was completely empty. And for good reason: the service was meh and the food was meh (I don’t even remember what I had). The room, however, was lovely.
The one thing that the meh dinner did do for us, however, was give us a second wind. So we decided to do some exploring.
The hotel was built in 1892 as the Windsor. It was huge and Victorian and meant to attract winter visitors from the north. Al Capone was said to have stayed in the bridal suite, and there’s a tunnel under the hotel that facilitates discreet entrances and exits for people of note.
It was fairly late in the evening and there was no one else around, so we poked into every nook and cranny, then chatted with the desk clerk for a bit. She told us that the hotel has tours, but that we’d had to have made a reservation for it at least two weeks in advance. She was training to be a tour guide, so she told us all that she knew about the hotel (she was the one who told us about the tunnel – it’s part of the tour). Then, when we mentioned that the Roosevelt conference room had been locked when we’d tried to peek in, she offered to open it for us. It was a room in which President Franklin Roosevelt had held secret WWII-related meetings. She called the manager to ask permission before she did, however, and he gave it.
The hotel closed in 1972 and came close to being torn down. But preservationists saved it and, after a $6 million renovation (which really doesn’t seem to be that much nowadays), it reopened in 1991. It’s now part of the Best Western franchise.