January 19, 2019 9:59:40 PM
NATCHEZ -- A noted hotel in a Mississippi River town is undergoing a transformation, years after closing.
The Eola Hotel in Natchez shut in 2014 after a Virginia attorney, Robert Lubin, bought the building. It is being remodeled into a 70- to 80-room hotel, the Natchez Democrat reports.
The project engineer, Keyla Carney, said people ask her to tour the building or simply peek inside.
The Eola was built in 1927 and has opened and closed several times.
The hotel was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. An application for the register says the Eola "entered a period of great prosperity" in 1932 when Natchez started its pilgrimage tours of antebellum homes.
"Not only was the hotel the principal place of lodging for the many tourists who visited the city, but it also became the social center for the citizens of the town," the application said.
Carney said the hotel registration desk will remain the same, as will interior columns and trim. All the architectural details will be painted and repaired. The hotel also will include several new features such as a gym, a cafe, a bar, and a spa.
Carney said she has heard from people who remember playing in the building when they were children. She said some former employees believe the hotel is haunted by a woman in a white gown who walks the fifth floor.
"People like to talk," Carney said. "I haven't seen anything, though."
One of the most interesting pieces of the past Carney said she found was a letter from a man to his mistress.
"The man had to return to his wife, and he left his lady friend in his bed," Carney said. "He had a great time but under the circumstances he had to go and would want to meet up again, that is, if they don't get caught."
Carney said she didn't keep the note, but it was left on the bed like someone had just stepped out.
As anyone who has walked past the building since it closed and peeked through the windows can attest, it looks as if people left for lunch and never came back.
"It really looked like the rapture had taken place and people had just disappeared," Carney said.
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