The Carnegie Hotel in Johnson City, Tennessee was our first overnight stop on the way home to Canada from South Carolina. We’ve stayed there before. We booked dinner in the hotel’s Wellington restaurant. General John T. Wilder, the builder in 1891 of the original hotel which, after it burned to the ground, rose from the ashes in today’s replica Art Deco manifestation, would no doubt have approved of our custom. The sweet after the evening meal was a lavender crème brûlée, a signature item on the menu proscribed by first come, first serve. Our eager waitress skilfully protected our interest by invoking that well known device of broaching the subject of dessert before embracing the lesser matter of hors d’oeuvres. In fairness she may have first enquired about a restorative cocktail but we years ago rid ourselves of that complication.
“This great palatial hotel has no equal in East Tennessee and for convenience has no superior in the south.”
– Johnson City Comet July 8th, 1891.
“Several alarms were turned in and the whole town was aroused. As the comet goes to press at 3 o’clock, the ruddy glare of the flames can be read in the sky for miles. It is impossible to save the building and no effort is being made to do so.”
– Johnson City Comet Sunday April 3rd, 1910
There are two features – seemingly unrelated either to one another or to the hotel – which endear the Carnegie Hotel to us. One, it is out of the way, nestled in the foggy Appalachian Mountains, an erstwhile railway stop which survives to this day complete with rumbling rails and blaring horns. We are overall partial to seclusion. The bent corresponds with our attraction to the barrier islands of the North Atlantic Ocean. Two, we have always – that is, always since last time – been able to secure an acceptable parking spot, practically at the lobby entrance yet out of bounds enough to escape indiscrete transients. Exercising a degree of determination we conveniently commandeered one of the gilded luggage carts to transport our belongings to the suite on the fifth floor. Apparently our efforts earlier in the day to turn twenty dollar bills into smaller change were for naught. Not that we begrudge a bellhop of his duty or entitlement but it is as often a hindrance as an accommodation especially when we haven’t the energy after a long day’s drive for elevator chitchat.
Curiously on the evening of our stay at the hotel there were independent events for both the Democratic and Republican Parties, metaphorically the one upstairs, the other down. Given the predominant perception of the Confederate South as male, white and conservative, the contemporaneous activity of the two in the same venue is no small compliment. One has to wonder whether it were not some insightful calculation by the hotel owner.
Join us on Saturday, April 9th at the Carnegie for the Washington County Democratic Party’s annual State of Franklin Dinner! Let’s get dressed up and enjoy a fun evening with Democrats from all over the region! The State of Franklin Dinner tradition began in 2019 and it sold out. We danced the night away, having fun, all in support of a shared mission to elect Democrats and turn Washington County blue! Join us in this annual tradition.
We are excited to announce that Prager U’s Amala Ekpunobi will be joining us. Raised in a far-left activist household, Amala began a career in leftist organizing until unanswered questions led her to a complete ideological transformation. Upon passionately speaking out as a conservative, she became a viral social content-creator and amassed millions of views. She now works as a personality at PragerU creating daily content for social media and hosts a daily show called Unapologetic. Amala has been a returning guest on The Daily Wire’s Candace, Fox News’s The Ingraham Angle, and more. From Unhappy Liberal to Hopeful Conservative: Amala Ekpunobi
Our personal absorptions naturally outweighed the atmospheric preoccupations of those whose political necessities are more exoteric. We long ago learned to distance ourselves from the sometimes incomprehensible renditions of either federal animus. The toxic ring of public debate is neither for the pusillanimous nor for the unattached. And most certainly not for the disinterested. My fascination with American culture is directly related to its reverberation with my selfish interests which I only hesitantly proclaim as, first, Epicurean and, second, casual which is to say without any intellectual depth or authenticity. In defence of my remoteness I need only observe that all the learned pundits failed to predict the evolution of American politics to date. And I most certainly will not attempt a gander in the beyond. Instead I’ll content myself with a devotion to what is good and sure of the past – like the Carnegie Hotel in Johnson City, Tennessee.