|By Nick Cenegy, The Anniston Star,
Ala.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Nov. 1, 2008 - The Victoria Inn in Anniston will be donated to Jacksonville State University, local developer Earlon McWhorter and his family announced Friday.
McWhorter said he and his family thought gifting the property to JSU would be a "really good fit."
"They use the hotel quite a bit, and we wanted it taken over by someone who appreciated it," he said.
The Anniston-based developer said the hotel was not an item he planned to have in his retirement portfolio.
He said he is currently having an appraisal done but the approximate value is $3 million.
"We want it used for academic purposes," McWhorter said.
JSU President Bill Meehan said the process is not complete yet but is well under way. Talks between the university and McWhorter have been going on for about a week.
"We are very grateful. The Victoria has quite a history," Meehan said.
He said he fondly remembers going to the inn with others from JSU to see the late Dr. Clyde Cox, former chair of the English Department, play the grand piano.
"We would just go down there to hear him play," Meehan said.
McWhorter said the family thought about gifting the property a few years ago but then decided to sell it. When they had to take the property back, they began putting "a lot of labor and love into it," he said.
McWhorter said he always has had a special place in his heart for JSU.
He said he grew up on the university's campus and spent his first year in college there.
The McWhorter family bought part ownership in the Victoria Inn in December 1985 and purchased the rest just a few years later.
Meehan said the university plans to continue operating it as a hotel.
JSU stands to make good profits from the hotel, and the arrangement will provide money to the university's general fund and some for scholarships, McWhorter said.
"There will be a transition at some point in the future. Right now there is a good management team there. We're just going to take it one day at a time," Meehan said.
McWhorter said the look and character of the Victoria will remain the same.
"We're not planning on taking a thing," he said.
That includes furnishings, paintings, and, yes, even the grand piano, McWhorter said.
About Nick Cenegy Nick Cenegy covers the military, Jacksonville and northern Calhoun County for The Star.
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