Ruby Gilley

Ruby Gilley is the daughter of R. H. Gilley who owned the hotel from 1921 until his death in 1979.

The following is her story in her own words :

Gilley's Hotel -- As I Remember It

by Ruby Lee Gilley

The Hotel was purchased from George S. Mooney & wife, Mollie E. Mooney, on September 4, 1920 by R.H. Gilley & wife Minnie Gilley for $16,000.00. It is interesting that they paid $6,000.00 down and gave 10 notes for $1,000.00 each over a period of 10 years, with interest, the amount of which was not shown. This hotel when purchased was known as the "Smith Hotel". This purchase was recorded in the register's office of Hawkins County, State of Tennessee, on the 14th of January, 1921 at 1:00 pm in note book B. on page 249. Recorded in the book of deeds Vol. 64, page 555.

The original hotel was built of brick (and I have heard the walls were 4 inches thick). It consisted of the basement and three stories. No one seems to know when it was built-{later research states 1884-1885}but as of 1990, the old portion is well over 100 years old. There was very little plumbing. Most of the rooms were furnished with beautiful washbowls and pitchers. These have all disappeared through the years, as did so many other furnishings.

At that time the kitchen and dining room were in the basement. The other 3 stories consisted of sleeping rooms.

Another part of the basement contained a "Barber Shop". Two of the barbers were Harley Flora and Leonard s. Haun. I am sure there were others, but I cannot remember their names. This shop operated for a long time.

Probably around 1924/25 Daddy decided to build an addition to the hotel. This was built of concrete blocks, with a large concreted front porch on the ground level and a full porch on the second floor level. This adjoined the original building.

After this was completed, the dining room and kitchen were moved to the new building. A very modern kitchen with a huge double-oven Home comfort wrought iron range T2 which was still in use many years thereafter. The dining room was furnished with probably 5 or 6 tables that would sit 6 to 8 people. There was a small table inside the dining room where a large brass dinner bell was set. This bell was rung by the "dining room girl" on the front porch before every meal. The hotel was noted for very good food and many of the local residents brought their families there for Sunday dinner.

The second floor was designed for two apartments, with 2 or 3 additional rooms in between. The front apartment, of course, had the advantage of the big front porch. The back apartment was over the dining room and kitchen and afforded some view of the "up town".

The front part of the building on the first floor was used as a large lobby. I do remember the big wooden and cane rocking chairs and smaller wooden chairs with curved backs that furnished the lobby. there was a large desk, a glassed in area, where the cash register stayed. On one side, in order to close the area in completely was a roll top desk.

There was a wash basin on one side of the room next to the door (which I shall later describe), a pay telephone booth, in one corner and a local phone in the other. The front of the lobby "sported" a large plate glass window under which was a long radiator( the building was heated with steam heat). In the winter this was my Daddy's favorite place to sit. He sat in a big rocking chair with his feet propped up on the radiator and watched the trains and cars go by. Craning his neck a little, he could even see the depot.

Now to explain "The Door". It was a door about 6ft off the floor opening into the lobby and entering the stairwell. using this door, big pieces of furniture could be moved up and downstairs without having to turn a sharp corner (in fact, without the door, it would have been impossible to move certain pieces of furniture into the upstairs apartments. This shows something of Daddy's ingenuity.

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