published Monday, June 24th, 2013

Inn to expand guest services at University of South

Construction of a new Sewanee Inn is under way at the University of the South in Franklin County. University of the South assistant director of physical plant services Reggie Vachon, left, says the 43-room inn will have a restaurant and bar, conference center and a view of the university's newly-renovated golf course.
Construction of a new Sewanee Inn is under way at the University of the South in Franklin County. University of the South assistant director of physical plant services Reggie Vachon, left, says the 43-room inn will have a restaurant and bar, conference center and a view of the university's newly-renovated golf course.
Photo by Ben Benton.

SEWANEE, Tenn. — Construction is under way at Sewanee: The University of the South on an inn and conference center.

The 43-room Sewanee Inn overlooks the school's renovated golf course and replaces the previous travel lodgelike structure built in the 1950s.

Reggie Vachon, assistant director of physical plant services for the university, said the idea is to build a two-story inn that looks as if it's been there from the beginning on the site of its predecessor.

Vachon said the new inn will double the university's capacity to put up prospective new students and their families, and guests who are coming for sporting events, conferences, faculty and alumni gatherings, tournaments and the like.

The first guests are expected to stay at the inn May 1, 2014, the week before next spring's commencement, he said.

Construction standards, under Nashville-architect Earl Swensson and Associates, meet or exceed those set by the U.S. Green Building Council and LEED, Vachon said.

Sewanee spokesman Parker Oliver said the inn, like some other ongoing projects on campus, uses stone and wood harvested from the university's 13,000-acre domain. Oliver said the wood is part of a research project by the forestry department at Sewanee.

"We really wanted the look and feel of the inn to be a blend of the old and new," he said.

Vachon said parts of the former inn were dismantled and reused all over campus.

The new inn's guest rooms are mostly standard-style motel rooms with a few suites and VIP digs thrown in. Each room has a balcony that overlooks a large courtyard directly behind the inn and out onto the golf course, which reopened June 9.

The inn probably will draw more visitors for sporting events after two more tennis courts are finished, and the school will be able to host national events, Vachon said.

The inn's restaurant will offer a menu that will be worth the trip, said Rich Berlin, assistant director of guest services.

"It's not going to be super high-end or super low-end," he said.

"It's going to be a very interesting place to go that will have exciting food, and it'll be a destination where you would go specifically to dine," he said.

"We'll be able to have larger, more sophisticated events and to have a more sophisticated approach to business meetings," Berlin said.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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