Developer has Plans to Restore Historic Turn of the Century Hotels to their Original Look
On the corner of 5th Street South and 3rd Avenue South in Columbus lie a couple of hotels which once served the area well back in the early 1900’s. They have become other businesses over the past century, and have been owned by the Mackay family during most of that time. Recently, the Mackays, proprietors of Party and Paper, sold the properties to developers Tommy Howard and Chris Chain. The new owners have announced their plans to restore the former hotels to their turn-of-the-century glory. They’ve got their work cut out for them, but it is their hope that they will be able to pull it off, bringing back a long-forgotten piece of Columbus’ history to downtown. With luck, this will help to beautify the area even further, and bring in more tourists and fans of historical buildings to the area. And that’s Good for Business!
Courtesy of The Dispatch – COLUMBUS
At the end of the strip of downtown buildings on the west side of the 200 block of Fifth Street South are two buildings more than 100 years old. The buildings used to be the New Stone Hotel and the Arcade Hotel in the early 1900s, and also played host to retail spaces and apartments. The new owners, developers Tommy Howard and Chris Chain, would like to bring all of that back.
Susan Mackay of Party and Paper (photo courtesy The Dispatch)
Susan Mackay said she and her brother Wayne Price sold the buildings because they felt the two developers would restore the buildings to their more original, early twentieth-century look. “I’m so pleased to have some people that are going to come in that have a beautiful vision to renovate the buildings and just make it a real showplace for Columbus and the state of Mississippi,” Susan said. “I’m just really excited for all the possibilities.”
Preparation for the renovations is already under way, which means cleanup on a large, but cautious, scale. Bathrooms in the buildings that haven’t been used since the ’60s still have claw-foot tubs, and crews found a torn, yellowed Commercial Dispatch newspaper featuring President Harry Truman on the front page in one of the old apartments. An old New Stone Hotel sign was found in the upstairs wall. It now leans against the wall of the old hotel lobby where you can still see railings around where the grand staircase once stood.
The developers plan to make a boutique hotel from a good portion of the usable space, once all is said and done; they also plan to use some of the space for apartments, and possibly some for retail space, such as a new restaurant, as well. “You’ve got to have vision,” Howard said. “If you saw this building, you’d have been like, ‘Really?’ … But you’ve got to see their potential.”
The renovations are expected to take many months to a year; Party and Paper will stay there for the time being, renting out space from the new owners.
Chain is the owner of Renovations of Mississippi Inc., which he started in 1996. A Columbus native, he said his interest in historical buildings was piqued in the ’70s when he worked as a tour guide in Columbus’s old homes. Now he owns eight downtown buildings in addition to the ones Mackay and Price sold him and has renovated buildings all over the state.
“This is a passion,” he said. “…Rebuilding Mississippi’s heritage.”
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