When Rhode Islanders Michael & Kathy Dumont purchased their remote, 400 acre getaway in middle Tennessee, they intended to retire there in a few decades. Little did they know they would spawn a restoration and re-invigorating re-birth of a sleepy, neglected town only a few years later.
Michael has always had a passion for preserving historical buildings and homes. Starting with his renovations of lofts in Boston, to the restoration of a 1756 Sea Captain’s home in Rhode Island, Michael honed his gift of “hearing the space”. “A vision comes to me, and I see the space as she was meant to be,” says Dumont.
It was natural he would restore the mid-1800’s, dilapidated farmhouse on their farm in Tennessee. Then, buying and restoring the all-but-forgotten 1939 hotel in the middle of town seemed like a piece of cake. Think again.
“We’d never been in the hotel or restaurant business – besides eating at a lot of nice restaurants,” jokes Kathy.
The Dumonts tackled this business first as a restoration project – and then were met with the challenge of running it, when the operator who originally made the deal got a job in another state. Their backgrounds in real estate and finance seem like an odd match to the hospitality business, but “Kathy has always loved to entertain – and makes everyone feel welcome and at ease. She knows how to throw a great dinner party,” says Michael. So they dove in.
Restoration went well… The narrow-planked oak flooring was stripped of its 70s era multi-colored shag carpeting and re-finished, along with restoration of the original period tile floors and tubs in several bathrooms. Art deco door hinges and doorknobs were salvaged. The warm, brick walls were exposed, and you can imagine those brick-layers working in 1939, with good, old fashioned sweat and pride. The huge, broken windows were replaced, and when you open them now, you can still smell the grass and trees of this small Southern town.