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John Sevier Hotel held grand opening Aug. 5, 1924

Staff Report • Aug 12, 2013 at 4:06 PM

Area artist Jerry Honeycutt forwarded to me a full-page advertisement in the Aug. 5, 1924, Johnson City Chronicle containing a much-anticipated announcement — The John Sevier Hotel was planning a formal grand opening for the first of its planned three-phase building program. The paper went on to say, “This house has been a dream; today it becomes a reality. Yesterday, it was a mystery; today it is a completed masterpiece. Yesterday it was a jumble, a chaos, a bedlam of noise and activity; today, it is a marvel of dignified, noiseless operation. Thus comes into being the full expression of Johnson City’s hospitality, the comfortable housing of Johnson City’s guests in a restful atmosphere of refined elegance.” The paper noted the two-day open-house program of ceremonies and events: Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2-5 p.m. — reception and inspection with the public invited to see the hotel from basement to roof; 7 p.m. — a banquet for stockholders and invited guests with informal talks; and 9 p.m. — a ball for stockholders and invited guests. Wednesday, Aug. 6, 3:30-6 p.m. — reception and inspection; 7 p.m. — opening dinner (table reservations required); and 9 p.m. — dancing in the ballroom.On those two days, the hotel was opened with what was described as the “ultimate in hotel excellence.” It was deemed to be the social and business headquarters for the “State of Appalachia,” being a fine modern hotel located near the center of the business district. Further, it was a house wherein Johnson City could proudly entertain guests. For two days, the John Sevier throbbed with receptions, inspections, curious onlookers, gala banquets and well-attended balls. The entire populace of Johnson City was invited to preview the new facility, from its spring- laden basement to the top of the 10th story with its splendid view of the mountains. Each afternoon, guides were busy graciously escorting guests throughout the 10-story structure. Area residents were proud that the hotel was named in honor of the man whom historians tagged as the “Father of Tennessee,” being a rugged pioneer, American soldier, hero of the Battle of Kings Mountain and popular politician in the state. The public was urged to take advantage of the new hotel: “You built this house; it is yours to enjoy. Make the John Sevier your club and your other home. There is every facility here for a social or business function, be it a cozy dialogue for two, a bridge game, a luncheon, a reception, a business conference, a committee or club meeting, a banquet or convention. Think of the John Sevier Hotel as built for you and make every demand upon it. Drop in to meet your friends and business associates for chats and exchange of news. When pressed, irked or worried, drop in and spend 15 minutes at the hotel, relaxing in its air of geniality. Find here the atmosphere that brings the fresh mental grip needed to deal with your current problem.”The John Sevier, a Foor and Robinson Hotel, was elegance without being extravagant — fireproof, handsomely designed, decorated, furnished, equipped and constructed for possible future expansion of rooms. The company’s experience in creating a dozen fine new hotels made it refined, durable and at reasonable cost, raising the standard in hotel designing. The interior of the facility contained the latest and best expression in furniture, draperies, equipment and fittings, adding to its desire to achieve restful beauty, durability and grace. The code of Foor and Robinson was “anticipation,” meaning they provided in advance every whim that could be imagined from its customers. The John Sevier joined the ranks of other impressive Foor and Robinson hotels around the country in 1924: the George Vanderbilt Hotel (Asheville, N.C.), Ponce de Leon Hotel (Miami), Aragon Hotel (Jacksonville, Fla.), Hotel Charlotte (Charlotte, N.C.), George Washington Hotel (Washington, Pa.), O. Henry Hotel (Greensboro, N.C.), Francis Marion Hotel (Charleston, S.C.), Cumberland Hotel (Bridgeton, N.J.), Sheraton Hotel (High Point, N.C.) and Cleveland Hotel (Spartanburg, S.C.).”Email Bob Cox at boblcox@bcyesteryear.com or visit www.bcyesteryear.com.

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