General Morgan Inn & Conference Center

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Discover General Morgan Inn & Conference Center, which is named after Confederate General John Hunt Morgan, who was killed near the hotel.

General Morgan Inn & Conference Center was constructed at a time when the United States was defined by great economic prosperity, industrial expansion, and significant social reform.

The first building to stand on what is today the General Morgan Inn was the De Woody Tavern, a wooden structure erected in the late 1790s. Heavily patronized by local residents, it also provided overnight accommodations for travelers passing through Greeneville. From the late 1820s to the 1860s, the establishment was known as Bell Tavern. Joshua Lane operated the tavern during the Civil War, when it was better known as the Lane House. Early on the morning of September 4, 1864, Joshua's wife, a Union sympathizer, reportedly spotted Confederate General John Hunt Morgan as he tried to escape Union soldiers and pointed out his hiding place. During the ensuing gun battle, the colorful Kentucky Calvary officer, popularly known as the "Thunderbolt of the Confederacy," was shot and killed not far from the rear of the tavern.

In the 1880s, the De Woody Tavern was purchased by Colonel John H. Doughty, who built the three-story Doughty-Stevens building, located on Main Street across from the inn, in the late 1880s. Colonel Doughty, recognizing the need for an excellent hotel to accommodate the many railroad travelers, demolished the original De Woody tavern and began construction of a new four-story brick structure that would become the historic 60-room Grand Central Hotel, its facade adorned with marble belt courses at each floor. Within a few short years, four railroad hotels, all connected at the second-floor level with a bridge across an alleyway, had sprung up.

In 1920, Mrs. E.J. Brumley purchased the hotel and began full operation of the newly renamed Hotel Brumley. In 1948, Judd Brumley opened "The General Morgan Room," a supper-club style private dining area adjacent to the main dining room on the first floor. The General Morgan Room was an instant success and quickly became the region's most popular and prestigious location for formal affairs. The Hotel Brumley ceased operation in May 1981. For many years the historic building sat vacant. After nine years of planning and fundraising, the restored General Morgan Inn and Conference Center opened for business in September 1996.

  • Famous Historic Events +

    Joshua Lane operated the tavern during the Civil War, when it was better known as the Lane House. Early on the morning of September 4, 1864, Joshua's wife, a Union sympathizer, reportedly spotted Confederate General John Hunt Morgan as he tried to escape Union soldiers and pointed out his hiding place. During the ensuing gun battle, the colorful Kentucky Calvary officer, popularly known as the "Thunderbolt of the Confederacy," was shot and killed not far from the rear of the tavern.


Image of Historian Stanley Turkel, Historic Hotels of America Image of Stanley Turkel's Book Built To Last: 100 Year Old Hotels East of the Mississippi, Historic Hotels of America.

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Hotel History: General Morgan Inn (1884), Greeneville, Tennessee*



By Stanley Turkel, CMHS



The first building to stand on the site now recognized as the General Morgan Inn was the DeWoody Tavern, a wooden structure built in the early 1790s by William Dunwoody. A friendly establishment, the tavern offered food, supplies and lodging to pioneers traveling westward from the mountains of North Carolina along the Great Wagon Trail that would eventually become U.S. Highway 321. Greeneville's Big Spring, with its abundance of fresh water, made the location an ideal stopping point along the trail. Over the years, the DeWoody Tavern's operators and its name would change several times. From the late 1820s to the 1860s, the establishment was known as "Bell Tavern.. It was advertised as "a Public House at the sign of the Bell in Greeneville" and operated by William K. Vance.



Joshua Lane owned and operated the tavern during the Civil War when it was commonly known as the "Lane House." As the Lane House, the tavern hosted friend and foe of both the Union and Confederate armies, but on the morning of September 4, 1864, guests of the tavern witnessed one of Greenville's most notorious skirmishes. The day before Confederate General John Hunt Morgan arrived in Greeneville late in the afternoon and arranged to stay in the home of his friend, Mrs. Catherine Williams. According to legend, Union troops were given a tip about Morgan's location, and eager to capture "The Thunderbolt of the Confederacy" (as he was nicknamed), troops moved into the town early on the morning of September 4. Though it was located in the middle of town, the Williams mansion was adorned with a number of trees, gardens, and a vineyard. With the help of Mrs. Williams and her family, Morgan attempted to escape. However, outnumbered and ambushed, he was shot and killed as he ran from the yard to the stables.



In 1886, the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad built a new train depot in Greeneville, which brought dramatic change to the entire community. In support of the new train depot, the railroad arranged schedules so that their passenger trains stopped in Greeneville during meal times.



Colonel John H. Doughty, a local entrepreneur, was ready for a new project and recognized the need for an excellent hotel to accommodate the many business travelers the railroad would bring to Greeneville. Doughty purchased and demolished the Lane House and began construction of a new brick structure that would become the Grand Central Hotel. The Grand Central was a beautiful four-story brick building adorned with marble trim and looked very much as it does today. Containing about 60 rooms originally, the structure was considered one of the finest hotels between Roanoke, Virginia. and Chattanooga, Tennessee. Elegantly furnished with wide halls and lavish furnishings, the exterior of the building originally had an upper balcony that extended across the front of the second-story level, and a flight of stairs that opened onto Main Street.



The street level of the Grand Central was devoted to retail stores. One of the most important functions of the hotel in those days was providing a place for traveling sales representatives and other businessmen to meet with customers. For that purpose, the Grand Central rented long-term rooms, called "sample rooms," in addition to providing overnight accommodations.



Other community leaders were also building hotels in response to the coming of the railroad. One of the most impressive was The Mason House, located adjacent to the Grand Central, a spot known for generations as "Mason's Corner." In fact, within a few short years, four railroad hotels, all interconnected at the second floor level with a bridge across an alleyway, had sprung up on the corner of Main and Depot Streets. These hotels each maintained "drays" that met each train at the depot and transported passengers to the hotel of their choice.



In 1910, Col. Doughty passed away, and the Grand Central Hotel was inherited by his four children. Mrs. E.J. Brumley, sister-in-law of one of Col. Doughty's sons, had been operating the hotel since 1907. In 1920, Mrs. Brumley purchased the hotel from the Doughty heirs and, along with her son, Judd, began full operation of the newly renamed Hotel Brumley. Under their direction, the hotel became the center of Greeneville's social and civic community, known regionally for its lively, friendly atmosphere, excellent food and collection of fine antiques.



In 1925, the well-known orator and three-time presidential candidate, William Jennings Bryan, stopped at the Hotel Brumley on his way to the Scopes trial in Dayton, and a magnificent luncheon was prepared in his honor. In 1928, the Brumleys began an extensive remodeling of the hotel, adding the Crystal Ballroom on the second floor, where formal events such as balls, dinners and wedding receptions were frequently held. The Hotel Brumley continued to prosper with a continual flow of railroad travelers and local burley tobacco market buyers who kept the hotel's rooms and dining areas filled to capacity over the next two decades.



The elegant Crystal Ballroom was closed in 1948, when Judd Brumley opened The General Morgan Room, a supper club-style private dining area adjacent to the main dining room on the first floor. It was an instant success, and quickly became the region's most popular location for formal affairs. One of the most notable and unique additions to The General Morgan Room were the hand-carved, blue glass bas-relief etched mirrors, which Brumley had commissioned from a regional artist in 1948. During the hotel's extensive renovation in 1996, the etched glass treasures were completely restored. They now are on display behind the Inn's beautiful mahogany bar in the lounge area.



Mrs. Brumley passed away in 1964, and shortly afterward in that same year, her son Judd died as well. The hotel continued to be owned and operated by various Brumley family members until 1981, when the hotel was sold to the Greene County Bank. By that time, much had changed at the hotel and, unfortunately, within the entire community of Greeneville. Passenger train service to Greeneville had stopped years earlier, and the retail department stores that anchored the downtown area for decades had moved to shopping centers outside of the historic downtown district. Although the Brumley Coffee Shop remained a popular spot to gather and eat, the hotel had long since stopped renting rooms and apartments and, in fact, had fallen into a state of disrepair. Without fanfare, the Hotel Brumley Coffee Shop, the last operating portion of the once magnificent four interconnected railroad hotels, closed its doors for the final time after serving Sunday dinner on May 24, 1981, to a sizable group of customers and friends who had come to say goodbye to a great era for the town of Greeneville.



In 1983, Main Street Greeneville was formed after the town of Greeneville was selected by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as one of the first five towns in Tennessee to be part of the "Main Street" program. The National "Main Street" program was designed to show communities that their historic downtowns were worth saving, while also providing a structure for revitalization efforts. Three years later, Greene County Bank recognizing that the task of restoration and revitalization of the Hotel Brumley was too great for them to undertake alone, donated the destination to Main Street Greenville in the hope that it would be redeveloped and once again serve as an important downtown landmark. However, the Main Street program was unsuccessful in getting the hotel restored and, in fact, found itself facing increasing liabilities as the structure was in critical need of attention.



The group created a new board under the name of Olde Town Development Corporation and set about acquiring other locations around the hotel so that a large enough area could be part of the same development to stand on its own aesthetically and economically. Olde Town Development submitted plans for a large portion of the block to be transformed into the Morgan Square, a complex of hotels, shops and offices. The centerpiece of the project would be the General Morgan Inn and an adjacent conference center.



After more than nine years of planning, fund-raising and construction, the historic General Morgan Inn and Conference Center opened its doors for the first time September 18, 1996, to a private weekend designed for project contributors. The overnight festivities, aptly named the "First Night," were held for sponsors and supporters of the project.



The four-story historic General Morgan Inn, located in the very heart of Greeneville's National Register Historic District, was one of the first non-profit community efforts of its kind in the nation's history.

On November 29, 2000, as part of a friendly foreclosure sale conducted on the steps of the Greene County Courthouse, the General Morgan Inn, along with its accompanying Morgan Square location, was sold to the Morgan Inn Corporation, a local corporation dedicated to maintaining Greeneville's downtown historic district. The Inn is a member of the National Trust Historic Hotels of America and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.



*excerpted from his book Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi



*****



About Stanley Turkel, CMHS



Stanley Turkel is a recognized consultant in the hotel industry. He operates his hotel consulting practice serving as an expert witness in hotel-related cases and providing asset management an and hotel franchising consultation. Prior to forming his hotel consulting firm, Turkel was the Product Line Manager for worldwide Hotel/Motel Operations at the International Telephone & Telegraph Co. overseeing the Sheraton Corporation of America. Before joining IT&T, he was the Resident Manager of the Americana Hotel (1842 Rooms), General Manager of the Drake Hotel (680 Rooms) and General Manager of the Summit Hotel (762 Rooms), all in New York City. He serves as a Friend of the Tisch Center and lectures at the NYU Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism. He is certified as a Master Hotel Supplier Emeritus by the Educational Institute of the American Hotel and Lodging Association. He served for eleven years as Chairman of the Board of the Trustees of the City Club of New York and is now the Honorary Chairman.




Stanley Turkel is one of the most widely-published authors in the hospitality field. More than 275 articles on various hotel subjects have been posted in hotel magazines and on the Hotel-Online, Blue MauMau, Hotel News Resource and eTurboNews websites. Two of his hotel books have been promoted, distributed and sold by the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (Great American Hoteliers: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry and Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi). A third hotel book (Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels in New York) was called "passionate and informative" by the New York Times. Executive Vice President of Historic Hotels of America, Lawrence Horwitz, has even praised one book, Great American Hoteliers Volume 2: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry:



  • “If you have ever been in a hotel, as a guest, attended a conference, enjoyed a romantic dinner, celebrated a special occasion, or worked as a hotelier in the front or back of the house, Great American Hoteliers, Volume 2: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry is a must read book. This book is recommended for any business person, entrepreneur, student, or aspiring hotelier. This book is an excellent history book with insights into seventeen of the great innovators and visionaries of the hotel industry and their inspirational stories.”

Turkel was designated as the “2014 Historian of the Year by Historic Hotels of America,” the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This award is presented to an individual for making a unique contribution in the research and presentation of history and whose work has encouraged a wide discussion, greater understanding and enthusiasm for American History.



Works published by Stanley Turkel include:



Most of these books can be ordered from AuthorHouse—(except Heroes of the American Reconstruction, which can be ordered from McFarland)—by visiting www.stanleyturkel.com, or by clicking on the book’s title.



Contact: Stanley Turkel



stanturkel@aol.com/917-628-8549

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