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The Light of Hospitality

blog9From the very beginning, the lantern has been the symbol of innkeeping. Visualize the innkeeper standing outside his inn with the lantern, welcoming weary guests to his establishment. Outside Hemlock Inn, there is a lamppost and lantern near the parking lot and right next to the “New Guests Park Here” sign. It has been our welcome to tired travelers of today.

None of us here know when the lamppost was installed. Maybe it was around when the inn was built in 1952. We found some pictures of it in the 60’s. We think the Haneys, the folks who built the inn and managed it for the first dozen years, may have found it at an auction or antique store. No one really knows the age of it …we just know it is old. Earlier this year, it began to malfunction. The lantern was showing some rust and the post was rotting. We thought maybe it was time to replace the whole assembly…new post and new lantern too.

Charles and Mary K Turkington had scheduled a family reunion at the inn for late June. As it turned out, several of the men in the family, including Will and Tim Turkington and Jack Ewing, loved to do handiwork and asked for a chore to do while they were here. I told them about our plans for the lamppost and they agreed to take on that task. But our plans to install a new lantern abruptly changed once they began to take the old one down. A quick examination revealed it was much older than we expected. First of all, it was very heavy. The top of the lantern was vented and the bottom was designed for a removable plate. It was quickly determined that this was a lantern designed for candles. The glass was very thick and some of the fittings were brass. This was a valuable and old treasure. We decided then and there that we needed to restore the old lantern and Charles Turkington, patriarch of the family, agreed to take on that job.

In Mid August, the Turkingtons returned with the refurbished lantern and it was installed in its original site. As I look at the lantern today, I think of how many guests it has welcomed over our 57 years of operation. I also think of the many the life long friends we have made here and how our lives have been touched by them. We hope our simple inn has touched them as well in some small way.

We often wonder if our inn is getting too old. We know much of the traveling public today want new buildings and modern amenities. Then I look at the lantern and remember that Hemlock Inn is also a valuable treasure offering a break from the stresses that seem to over take so many folks. You simply cannot find many places around any more that offer peace and tranquility in a wonderful natural setting, genuine southern hospitality, and delicious homecooked meals served family style.

Thank you Charles, Will, Jack and Tim. The new, refurbished lamppost and lantern is wonderful and has reminded us of our heritage May our lamppost continue to be the light of hospitality for many more years for folks looking for a special place to rest, relax, and renew.

Come enjoy the peace

— Mort White