While writing the third book in the Fury Falls Inn series, Desperate Reflections, which is coming out later this spring, I needed a fine, high class hotel in the Washington, D.C. area for my main character to compare to the haunted inn in my series. (Note: the inn does not fare well in this comparison.) As usual, I searched my memories for any possibilities and came up with the Willard Hotel.
Why the Willard? Well, I know it’s old because my parents honeymooned there after their wedding in 1948. It’s still in operation today. In fact, my brother-in-law met his wife while working there as an accountant a couple of decades ago. So there are two links to this hotel in my mind. Not only did family stay and work there, but it’s also now one of the finest hotels and is even listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. But how old is it?
Great! A research question! Turns out there has been a hotel of one kind or another at 1401 Pennsylvania Avenue NW since 1816. A Colonel John Tayloe III built six buildings which he then leased out to Joshua Tennison, who called his new lodgings the Tennison’s Hotel. After several name changes and operators over the next few decades, it was finally purchased by Henry Willard and named the Willard Hotel in 1847.
Given that this series is set in 1821 north Alabama, I used the reference to Tennison’s Hotel in what they called the Territory of Columbia (until 1847) as the finer hotel than the inn could ever become. Especially from Abram Fairhope’s elevated and elitist sensibilities.
If you get a chance, you might want to swing by the Willard someday just to see how beautiful a building it is. And as always, happy reading!
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Giles Fairhope reluctantly journeys to the Fury Falls Inn for one reason: his beloved sister Cassie needs him after their mother was murdered. His father and three brothers are far away, so she’s alone, without any family, in the wilderness of 1821 northern Alabama. He plans to find his mother’s killers, ensure Cassie’s safety, and then go home. Cassie begs him to stay until their father returns, but Giles has absolutely no desire to see him. When Cassie tells him their mother’s ghost haunts the inn, he suddenly faces his dead mother amidst shocking memories from his past and unexpected changes in himself.
His mother’s ghost insists he find not only the killers but a stolen set of keys. Keys which unlock more than an attic door but also surprising and dangerous family secrets. The revelations change everything he thought he knew about his family and threaten his sister’s safety and perhaps even her life…