- Associated Press - Sunday, April 12, 2015

ORLEANS, Neb. (AP) - Guests are once again roaming the halls of a historic hotel in Orleans, thanks to David and Marilyn Snodgrass.

Marilyn and David, retired from their jobs as a teacher and a mechanic, purchased the hotel in May. Though they’re both longtime Orleans residents, the couple had never been in the building until they decided to purchase it.

“We thought it’d be something we’d just ease into,” Marilyn said. “But once we’ve been open, we’ve been real busy.”

Built in 1929, the hotel was once a popular spot for visitors to stay in Harlan County. Marilyn discovered that while the Harlan County Dam was being built in the early 1950s, the rooms were full every night. Ownership of the building traded hands throughout the years, and use of it eventually waned.

Unlike many historic buildings that fall victim to neglect or renovations, much of the Orleans Hotel is still in its original condition. Antique light fixtures hang from the ceiling and fire hoses are attached to the walls; the kitchen’s former icebox is now used for dish storage, and the antique oven still works. The couple discovered dishes that were used when the hotel had a restaurant once upon a time, and they hand guests skeleton keys with original Hotel Orleans tags attached when they check in.

“When we walked in, we couldn’t believe it,” Marilyn said of all the features left undisturbed. “A lot of people haven’t been in here, so they’re amazed when they come in.”

Near the check-in desk, the Snodgrasses restored the hotel’s former phone room where salesmen and guests used to make calls in a phone booth, the Kearney Hub (https://bit.ly/1D08z0W ) reports.

The couple had to do some maintenance work to get the building up to code. They installed a handicap-accessible ramp on the back end and central air conditioning. But the majority of the hotel was in such good shape, it only took a few coats of paint and minimal remodeling to get it ready for guests. They opened in September.

The building has three levels, including the basement. The hotel has 23 rooms available for guests at $45 a night. The upstairs dining room with connected kitchen and the downstairs activity room are available for event rentals.

Several of the rooms have small sinks in them, though guests have to share bathrooms and showers.

Each of the guest rooms has a theme. The rooms are decorated with Snodgrass family antiques and artifacts. The beds all have quilts made by David’s mother and grandmother.

“We’ve had people stay for funerals, and we get a lot of people from other states who come to hunt. We weren’t advertising too much, so it’s all been word of mouth,” Marilyn said.

Marilyn said guests enjoy the hotel’s historic atmosphere.

“That’s what people like about it. Even some people in the 20s and 30s would rather be here than in a Hilton,” she said. “It’s kind of like going back in time in our little cookie cutter world.”

As the days get warmer, the Snodgrasses are preparing for their first season with lake visitors. Marilyn said they’re not sure what to expect, but that they’re looking forward to it.


Information from: Kearney Hub, https://www.kearneyhub.com/

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