McEntire home 2

Plans for a boutique hotel, upscale restaurant and event center near the historic McEntire House on Sycamore Street Northwest in Decatur are being prepared, according to the property’s new owners. [MICHAEL WETZEL/DECATUR DAILY]

The second oldest home in Decatur will become the centerpiece of a boutique hotel, upscale restaurant and event center once the new owners complete design plans and secure financing.

Decatur native Libby Sims Patrick, of Atlanta, and her husband Carl Patrick purchased the 6,000-square-foot historic structure on Oct. 14, 2020, through McEntire LLC.

Libby Patrick said she envisions the project helping revitalize the area around the 1100 block of Sycamore Street Northwest. The home, construction of which began in 1824 and was completed in 1836, sits on a 2 acres about 100 yards from the southern bank of the Tennessee River.

“As part of what we hope will be a tipping point for mixed use development on the riverfront, we are creating a destination boutique hotel experience as part of downtown Decatur on the river,” she said. “Sitting above the Port of Decatur, the hope is that this revitalization of a historical landmark ... will help propel the city’s desire to have community, industry and nature work in harmony on the riverfront.”

Patrick said the proposed project includes the refurbishment of the McEntire home and gardens, a history room, an adjacent 55-room hotel, an upscale restaurant, bistro rooftop lounge with live entertainment, bakery and café, event pavilion and lawn for weddings, meetings and celebrations as well as a full-service spa and wellness center.

The history room and memorabilia detailing the history of the home will be just inside the front of the house, she said.

The house has strong ties to the Civil War and the Trail of Tears, when thousands of Native Americans were transported through the area on their way to Oklahoma in the late 1830s. In 1984, the house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, and it is also part of the National Park Service’s Cherokee Trail.

The house was used by both Union and Confederate troops during the Civil War. It is one of four Decatur houses that survived the Civil War, and only the Dancy Polk House at 901 Railroad St. is older.

“The architectural and interior design plans are currently underway,” she said. “Once complete, we will be putting together an investor memorandum and hope to get financing quickly so that we can stay on a fast track to complete the project. We will be finishing up our pricing package with local and Atlanta contractors and once we have pricing and financing, we hope to move quickly.”

She estimated the project construction would take about 18 months once financing is secured and will cost about $18 million.

"It’s been a tough time with the COVID pandemic, but a specialty project like this is getting great verbal support from the Decatur community,” she said. “It is a positive, doable project. I want to continue to help Decatur.”

A graduate of Decatur High and Auburn University, Patrick, CEO of Patrick Sims Studio in Atlanta, plans to use her expertise as a licensed interior designer and accreditation as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) professional to make the project a destination site that is unique for her childhood hometown.

She has worked on more than 120 boutique hotel projects, she said.

Office of Design Architecture in Decatur, Georgia, is assisting her in drawing up final plans, she said, and Hay Creek Hotels, an independent boutique hotel operator based in New Hampshire, will be in charge of running the day-to-day operations.

The current plans call for a loop driveway to be put in the front yard of the home so guests can arrive at the front door to register. The hotel and restaurant will be constructed behind the McEntire home near Grove Street, she said. A rooftop bistro lounge featuring live entertainment will be built above the restaurant and hotel. A bakery and café are planned for the river side of the home.

“A special events pavilion with a capacity of about 150 people will allow people to look out on the lawn and river,” she said. “It will be designed for weddings, receptions, meetings.”

A pool for hotel guests is also in the plans, Patrick said.

She said the 185-year-old home needs some minor repairs.

“Overall, the house is in great shape,” she said. “The front porch columns will need repair and we’ll refinish the floors and paint the walls. The house will be glamorous. We’ll be honoring what the house is. Its heyday was in the 1920s and '30s. We are drawing inspiration from that era. … The hotel will have an upscale lake house kind of feel. We are embracing the nearby railroad and the railroad bridge. Those are part of the city's history.”

Retired Judge David Breland, director of historic resources and events for Decatur, said he was wowed by Patrick’s plans for the property.

“I’m quite confident what she has planned will be first class and very sensitive to the preservation of the home," he said. "I believe that is a grand use for that property. Libby is leading a movement to redevelop the waterfront. We certainly need a place to put our toes in the water on the south side of the river.”

Patrick, the CEO of McEntire LLC, said her sisters Sheri Sims Hofherr of Atlanta, chief operating officer of McEntire LLC, and Lisa Sims Wallace of Florence, also have a say in the plans.

“The project is something that the Sims family is very passionate about. Our father, Dr. Bill Sims, has developed over 17 miles of bike trail in the city. Our mother, Betty Sims, is a chef and restaurateur and wants to continue her legacy of great food and Southern hospitality through this project,” Patrick said. “We want to give back to the city that has been so good to our family.

"Decatur is such a wonderful place to grow up and has so much to offer, so much beauty with the river, wildlife, recreation and great education, and we hope this project will be as exciting to everyone in the city as it is to all of us. We will be bringing jobs and creating a place for making memories.”

Berval Bennett, who sold the house to McEntire LLC, said it was important to him that the house be preserved.

“We had an offer from a prospective buyer who wanted to turn it into offices,” said Bennett, who has lived in the house for 22 years. “But we wanted to make sure it was preserved. What Libby is planning is a big opportunity for Decatur. It will bring more people to Bank Street. I’m looking forward to it.”

Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling is excited about Patrick’s plans, too.

“The vision that Libby has for that area will be outstanding for Decatur, especially for our riverfront,” Bowling said. “We’re thankful for the continued investment for our city from the Sims family. The girls are following in the footsteps of their parents in contributing to Decatur.”

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(1) comment

Spence Mckay

This is amazing news, thank you for investing back into the place that helped make you who you are. I look forward to patronizing once opened.

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