Tammy and Jeremy Ensey opened the doors of the Historic Elgin Hotel to visitors Sunday, and the crush of more than 300 curious people roaming the lobby, ballroom, and guest rooms far exceeded expectations.
“We’ve had so many people ask about when we were going to have an open house that I think it was expected,” Tammy Ensey said. “I am overwhelmed by the response.”
She was also gratified by vistors’ reactions to the hotel.
“They’re overwhelmed; they’re speechless,” Ensey said. “They can’t believe how beautiful it is. That part makes me happy.”
Guests were treated to food and beverages provided by Ad Astra of Strong City, Marissa Makovec, CB Baked Goods, Carlsons’ Grocery, and Tampa State Bank.
Ad Astra majority owner Gwen Shirkey said she was excited to visit the Elgin again after catering a wedding there last month.
“We’ve been doing catering for about seven months now, and this is our 21st catering party,” she said. “I love the blend here of keeping the historic themes of the hotel but also updating it with some great updates. It’s beautiful; they’re doing a great job.”
Ensey and innkeeper Alicia Stone also used their culinary talents to good effect.
“Appetizers are some of my favorite things to make,” Ensey said.
Cooking on Thursday was welcome respite from open house preparations, Stone said.
“We looked at each other and we said, ‘We’re going to cook first because we can relax and do our stressful stuff later,’” Stone said. “It’s like two sisters in a kitchen just putting all kinds of things in a bowl and seeing what you can come up with.”
Stone said she thought one of the main attractions was the penthouse that former owners Jim and Nancy Cloutier lived in.
“The big thing that everybody wanted to see was the third floor, because nobody has ever seen it, so I knew that was going to be a source of entertainment,” she said.
A work in progress that was open for viewing was a stone outbuilding the Enseys are converting into a game room.
“The building, to my knowledge, hasn’t been used since the 1950s,” Ensey said. “I’ve read there was a bakery in there at one point, and that it was a changing room before they had indoor restrooms. We’re opening that up with a billiards table and some other game tables, lounging couches, and a big screen TV.”
Second floor guest rooms will soon receive new paint and window coverings, she said.
Those who missed the open house will have another opportunity to tour the Elgin during Marion City Library’s Christmas home tour Dec. 4.
“We’ll be all decorated for Christmas,” Ensey said. “We’ll have some special Elgin treats, so they’ll have another reason to come back.”