Through the Viewfinder: Construction crews continue transformation of Eola

Published 11:48 pm Wednesday, January 9, 2019


NATCHEZ — While walking through the old Eola Hotel, dust falls from the walls stirred up from the current interior demolition underway.

The renovation work that is in the early stages has many people in town talking.

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Keyla Carney, project engineer, said she has had people come up and ask her for tours of the building or just to let them take a peek inside.

“The majority of what I have learned about the history of the Eola,” Carney said, “has been from just talking to people in town.”

Carney said she has heard stories from people who worked at the hotel and from people who have memories of playing as children in what was once a barbershop on the corner of Main Street.

“Everybody has a story,” Carney said.

The Eola was originally built in 1927 and has opened and closed several times since. The last time the Eola Hotel shut its doors was in 2014 after Virginia Attorney Robert Lubin purchased the building.

Lubin plans to remodel the building into a 70- to 80-room hotel.

For those who are lucky enough to remember what the Eola was like in its previous golden years, rest assured, Carney said, the past will continue to live on in the details.

The hotel registration desk will remain the same along with the interior columns and trim, Carney said, and all the architectural details will be painted and repaired.

The hotel also will include several new features such as a gym, a café, a bar and a spa among other additions.

The lower level hallway will be like a walk down memory lane, Carney said, with past awards and artifacts left behind, some from famous guests such as Olivia Newton John and John Wayne.

Carney said some people who have previously worked at the hotel tell her the building is haunted, including stories of 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 all the people left for lunch and never came back.

“It really looked like the rapture had taken place and people had just disappeared,” Carney said.