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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Inside The Josephine Hotel ~ Part 6 of 7

So sorry for the long delay since my last post.  I've just returned from a long and much need vacation.  But I am back now, and ready to continue with Part 6 of 7 in this series.

Here we are... finishing up the main floor of the Josephine Hotel. We now continue.  The view you see here is the storage room behind the private dining room.  

Ordinarily one wouldn't think this is all that big of a deal.  But I just love the fact that these tiles, which are not original to the building, are still here.  It is interesting mainly because they were laid about 80 years ago.  That would have been around 1934 or so.  What was here?  Ironically, a Soda Fountain and Drug store.  We know that there were at least two drug stores / ice cream parlors here.  

One of the biggest changes in the Josephine's look is that of her facade.  When the Perrin's bought the building the windows were busted out and covered and had been that way since been that way since the mid 1980's.  

Just a few weeks ago, Allen and Joyce were able to get the last of the windows in.  They did ALL the work themselves.  They did the woodwork, cutting the glass, and installed them all.  Amazing!  Today this is what The Josephine looks like now.  She still needs work, but she is looking better than she has in over 40 years.  

Below a view from a third floor window, shows a view of Union Springs not seen in more than 40 years.

Below are some the before photos of the inside when the Perrin's acquired the building.

When the Perrin's purchased the building, the roof leaked so bad, they literally had to put out dozens of these pools to catch the water that poured in. They wanted to prevent further damage from occurring.  This had to be a near nightmare to fight these water battles every time it rained.

Here's the roof.  This is why it was leaking so bad.  Also look over there in the upper left.  See that wonderful skylight?  That is the original skylight installed back in 1880.  Unfortunately, it had to be removed because of the way it was repaired by fools in the past.  They had put globs of tar all around the glass to the point that almost no light came in, and it leaked badly.  The Perrin's kept the two skylights from the roof and hope to have them restored and put back oneday.

Today, The Josephine has a brand new rubber topped roof.  She is good to go.

So why do they do it?  Why would a couple of folks, not from Union Springs, come here and want to take on this dilapidated old building and try to make something of it?  After all, nobody around here cared about it or cared about it's history.  I can tell you why... they BELIEVE.  They believed in what many of us would call a "Field Of Dreams" moment.  Remember the quote from the movie?  "If you build it, they will come."  The Perrin's believed if The Josephine could be even partially restored, cleaned up, and introduce local art, music, good food, and tell of it's history, people would come.  And come they did! 

The photos below will tell the story:

Fabulous handmade jewelry from a local artist.

A gathering place for friends to have lunch or for special occasions.

Or be like this fella, enjoying his Banana Split.  

Local musicians stop by to play a little Bluegrass Music.  

Or like these musicians who entertained us.

Maybe it was to realize that even important people like the Governor of Alabama, Robert Bentley, thought enough of The Josephine to stop by and say hi.

They also thought great food and a beautiful presentation would do the trick.  Take it from me, I've had this, it is beyond delicious.

Lots of laughter could be heard from this table full of lovely ladies.

The private dining room gets used a lot now.  They didn't even restore it for this purpose originally.  It was supposed to be used to teach classes for art, computer, and various other projects.  But now, many groups and businesses hold their meetings in this room.  It has stayed booked since it was completed in May of this year.  Can I get a wow for that?  Wow!!

Who knew this place could go from dilapidated to this?

Mr. Creepy is still standing by the piano waiting to scare the daylights out of me everytime I go up stairs.  But he scares the Ghost hunters even more when they go up here at night during a ghost hunt. 

Below: Faith Serafin, Author and founder of the Alabama Paranormal Research Team, briefs a group preparing to go upstairs for a ghost hunt.  They will gather information and collect more evidence.  I happen to know that on this particular hunt in June was a really good hunt.  They also established good evidence that "Josephine" herself, is one of the many ghost in the building.  How'd they do that?  They asked her.

The Perrin's love visitors, and these were among their many favorites.  This is one of the many, many reasons they keep doing what they are doing.  These guys fell in love with Union Springs.  They were just passing through, but after stopping at the Josephine they decided to stick around for a while that day.  When Joyce spent time telling them all about the town they wanted to see everything.   They visited the towns historic sites, checked out it's architecture, took photos, and had a blast.   

When a National best selling Author came to The Josephine, we all were thrilled out of our minds.  Melinda Rainey Thompson came to the Ladies Day Out Luncheon for Mother's Day.  She was just wonderful.  I was there as well and I had myself a ball too.  That's me on the left.  Then Melinda, Allen, and Joyce.  What a fun day!

The crowd was in stitches as Author, Melinda Rainey Thompson, spoke.  Her real life experiences were really relatable and everyone who came had a great time.  She is from Greenville, and now lives in Birmingham.  A true, funny southern lady. 

Union Springs Mayor, Saint Thomas here with Author, Melinda Rainey Thompson

Even famed Montgomery Realtor, Sandra Nickel, came to the luncheon. 

The local artist are never short on talent.  The Josephine's has their Art Shows coordinated to occur whenever there is a play going on at the Red Door Theatre. This is always a good time to come by, have a meal, maybe have some ice cream, and purchase art from our local artists.

Even pick up a souvenir piece that will remind you of your visit at the Historic Josephine Hotel.  Below is the official Josephine Necklace made by a local artist exclusively for The Josephine.

Below:  These people are a long way from home.  They are a young, sweet couple who came to America from England.  They were traveling and touring the Southeast and were taking all the backroads they could.  Union Springs, was a stop they made as they were on their way back to return their rental car at the airport in Atlanta.  When they arrived in Union Springs, they made the Josephine their stop for lunch.  They stayed quite a while, learning about the historic hotel and about the history of Union Springs.  After their lunch they purchased an exclusively handmade Josephine Necklace, made by a local artist which features the Josephine Hotel on it.  They were thrilled that they would have a cherished memory of this place they could take back to England.  Even more astounding, they said this was their favorite stop of all the places they had been while visiting America.  

What?  I know, you read that right.  It was their FAVORITE.  Why?  I will tell you why.  Tourist crave local folklore, stories, and history.  They love that stuff.  How do I know?  Because I am one of them.  I am the quintessential tourist.  I am well traveled, I love history, and I crave local history wherever I go.  I have even been to England myself.  I did in their country what they were doing here. I will share more about that later.

Below:  This is another reason why Allen and Joyce do what they do. Smiling faces, from people who just stop by for lunch.  Adults and children from everywhere, making the Historic Josephine a "must see" on list.  The kids love the ice cream, and the adults love the lunch, shopping, history, and stories that Joyce can provide.  

When you come to The Josephine, you're not just coming for lunch, ice cream, shopping, history, or a chance to spend time in a historic place.  It's the total package.  It's an experience!

This ends the tour "Inside The Josephine Hotel".   Coming up next is Part 7, which is the last in this series.  I will have a few more photos that are new.   I have some updates, and some facts about tourism and what it means to The Josephine and Union Springs.

I hope you've enjoyed the series.  I have thoroughly enjoyed bringing it to you.  I hope to bring a lot more info in the near future.  Until then...  so long. 

Be sure to keep up with all that is going at The Josephine by following us on Facebook.  "The Josephine Art Center".