A unique boutique hotel experience in White Sulphur Springs where every day feels like a reunion.
Arguably, as home to The Greenbrier resort, White Sulphur Springs is the epicenter of hospitality in West Virginia. But now there’s a new player in the field—The Schoolhouse Hotel—and it is in a class of its own as the first all-ADA compliant hotel in the world. And while that is unique and significant, what really makes this school-turned–boutique hotel a class act is that nearly every single person who works there has some type of connection to the school or the town.
“We just had an elderly couple who met here in school, got married, had children, and came back to celebrate their anniversary,” says Operations Manager Jennifer Andrews, who once marched the halls here as a majorette in the band. “The husband had been really sick, and he told me that his wife hadn’t gotten to do many fun things because she had been taking care of him, so he wanted to surprise her. They enjoyed coming back and walking down memory lane. I love that. Every day feels like a reunion.”
That sentiment is easy to understand. Just ask anyone you come in contact with, and they’ll proudly share a story or two. Food and Beverage Manager Greg McMillion played basketball here, albeit for a rival high school. “I’ve played many games in the gym. My wife went to school here. My mother- and father-in-law were high school sweethearts, and he was the last acting principal here,” he says. “I actually found old scorebooks from 1981, where our operations manager was the scorekeeper for White Sulphur and I was listed in the books. I also found some from 1954 and my dad and my uncles were in the scorebooks. That’s pretty cool.”
Operations Supervisor Mia Wooding attended junior high at White Sulphur. “I am a Green Devil for life,” she says. “When I learned that this building wasn’t going to be torn down, I knew I needed to be a part of it.” Marsha Fernandez, who also attended school here and serves as the hotel’s sales and event manager, had a similar feeling. ”The community is very tight-knit. It’s really special. This hotel is unique.”
The White Sulphur District High School, home of the Green Devils, opened in 1912 and was integrated in 1956. By 1968, it was bursting at the seams and graduated its last class of seniors. It continued its life as the junior high school until 1992, then became the Greenbrier Episcopal School and later a community center for the town. Then Charlie Hammerman, president and CEO of the Disability Opportunity Fund, a nonprofit dedicated to serving the disability market, purchased the historic building in 2019 with the goal of adaptively reusing it. “The Schoolhouse Hotel is a celebration of contemporary hospitality in a unique space that has been thoughtfully designed and considered to meet the needs of every traveler,” he says. “With roots that go back more than a century, our goal is to embrace the charm of White Sulphur Springs and to bring the city and the mountainous region around it alive for all guests.”
The Schoolhouse Hotel offers 30 smart guest rooms, including two contemporary suites that can be adjoined for family gatherings of up to 10 people, with room rates beginning at $150 a night. The hotel prides itself on ensuring accessibility for all guests with ADA-compliant features and state-of-the-art technology, such as stairs that flatten and transform into a motorized lift, automated blinds and curtains, and spacious bathrooms that feature showers with foldable ADA benches and commodes that are so technologically advanced it’s almost worth the price of admission to experience that alone.
All rooms cleverly pay homage to the building’s former life as a schoolhouse. There’s the brightly painted Art Room and the WV History Room, with the outline of the state engraved into the nightstands. Hanging on the wall in the exercise room is the old scoreboard from the gym.
The hotel’s restaurant, aptly named The Varsity Club, dishes out upscale Southern culinary classics. Start your meal with the She Crab Soup. The Crab Cakes with lobster corn chowder, Fried Oysters, Sea Scallops, Bourbon-Glazed Pork Chop, and Shrimp and Grits are some of the other dishes that take center stage. If you are in the mood for something lighter, head to the Rooftop, where you’ll find a small plates menu. The Rooftop is a beautiful spot where guests and locals relax on comfortable outdoor sofas and at high-top tables with handcrafted cocktails and local brews.
The Schoolhouse Hotel has positioned itself as a unique event space for weddings, business meetings, retreats, and reunions. The school’s former gym has been transformed into a 4,500-square-foot ballroom that can hold up to 300 guests. The original gym flooring has been refurbished, and now gold chandeliers hang from the ceiling. There are several unique spots at the hotel for nuptials. There’s a turf-covered plaza at the entrance that makes an outdoor ceremony more ADA-friendly, but the hotel also owns the Emmanuel Methodist Church, located next door and established in 1871, for those wanting a more traditional ceremony site.
“I love that now this building is open to the community for birthday parties, reunions, weddings, and events,” says Andrews. “We have an opportunity for future generations in our community to have a different type of attachment to this building and to introduce visitors to our wonderful town of White Sulphur Springs. There are great things happening here.” theschoolhousehotelwv.com
READ MORE ARTICLES FROM WV LIVING’S FALL 2022 ISSUE
Leave a Reply