Highland Inn Restoration Begins

The following article and accompanying photo are by John Bruce, Staff Writer, as published on Thursday, August 20, 2020 in The Recorder (Bath and Highland counties, Virginia)

MONTEREY — The Highland Inn renovation and community revitalization project celebrated a major milestone Tuesday.

Architects, builders, volunteers and community leaders gathered on the inn’s front porch to observe the launch of phase 1 construction with an informal celebration.

Miller Cupp and Lantz were lead contractors on the Highland Center renovation.

Blue Grass Resource Center chair Robin Sullenberger and Monterey Mayor Ronald Wimer recounted personal memories of experiences they enjoyed long ago.

Sullenberger spent an entire year of his childhood at the inn.  Wimer’s first job was at the inn.

Besides Sullenberger, other Blue Grass Resource board members include Richard Johnstone, vice chair; Chanda Sponaugle, treasurer; Nancy Witschey, treasurer; and Lloyd Bird.

Resource center executive director Betty Mitchell observed the many years of work and dedication it took to support the inn’s renovation, estimated to cost roughly $3 million in full for a turnkey operation.  “It takes so many people to realize a vision for a project of this magnitude for our small community,” she said.

Hamill “Skip” Jones, chair of the Charles Pinkney Jones Charitable Trust, announced during the celebration Tuesday a $150,000 grant for phase I construction and an additional $50,000 matching dollar-for-dollar challenge grant with a Dec. 31 deadline, fewer than 135 days away.

The late Elizabeth and Mary Hille McCoy, descendants of Charles Pinckney Jones, often enjoyed dining at the inn, Jones said.  The trust was created and funded by Mary Hille McCoy, who lived in the family home with her sister, Elizabeth, until her death.  Mary Hille was the last descendant of Charles Pinckney Jones to occupy the historic homestead on Main Street.

Partial financing for the inn’s renovation has been made available through grants from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and Virginia Economic Development Partnership for a total of about $650,000 in state grants, and not including individual or charitable group donations.

The Highland County Economic Development Authority and Board of Supervisors have been instrumental in securing grant funding.

“Your generosity has compelled the efforts of the Highland Inn Renovation Committee Jamie Collins, chair; D. Brian Richardson; and Sarah Collins-Simmons.  We’d also like to recognize Bill Rich, who helped with design work before he retired in 2017.  And our volunteers, Polly Newlon who organized, inventories and packed inn belongings that are now in the Highland Telephone Cooperative warehouse,” Mitchell said.  “Which brings us to today, phase I, exterior work and stabilization of the Highland Inn.  The inn has stood on this site and served the community and traveling public since 1904. Phase I wraps up early in January 2021.

“Phase II will take us inside and give us handicap accessible rooms on the first floor, systems upgrade through the inn, and renovation of all guest rooms,” Mitchell continued.  “Final design for this phase is currently under way and with the completion of the design, we will be in a more competitive position to apply for federal grants.

“It’s tough raising money during the pandemic,” she added, “but we’re up to it.”

To send a donation, make a check payable to Blue Grass Resource Center with Highland Inn on the memo line and mail to Blue Grass Resource Center, P.O. Box 113, Blue Grass, Va. 24413.

Pictured: Blue Grass Resource Center Executive Director Betty Mitchell, Lantz Project Manager Seth Little, and Lantz President & CEO Chris Weaver (far right) look on as BGRC chair Robin Sullenberger cuts the banner to mark the beginning of renovations.