For many years, a lot of people visiting the Smokies have been staying at
one of the oldest hotels in the area.
Since 1937, the Riverside Motor Lodge has been sitting on Gatlinburg's busy
Parkway. Now, the historic hotel is preparing to check-out of the community.
Hotel Manager Monty Mellinger said, "I've been here for the last 30
years. I started when I was 18."
In those years, Mellinger said he's witnessed a lot happen inside the
"We've had people who have gotten married here before. We had a desk
clerk who worked here and she was married over here in front of the fireplace
years ago and she's still married now," Mellinger said.
Paris, Kentucky couple William and Wendy Birdwell have been visiting the
area several times a year for the past 30 years and said the Riverside Motor
Lodge is the only hotel where they'd rest their heads.
Wendy Birdwell said, "We bring our family and we get the same rooms
every year. We stay around the pool. Most of the kids and grandkids have
learned to swim here."
No surprise when the couple found out the hotel's closing, they were shocked
and saddened. And even Gatlinburg residents can't believe one of the oldest
operating hotels in the area is closing.
Yogesh Kathari of Gatlinburg said, "It's a very popular place. It's
right in the center of town. People like it. People love being here."
Mellinger said the hotel is closing because the space is being underutilized.
He doesn't know what the property will be used for, but said the last day of
operations will be May 30th.
Marci Claude with the City of Gatlinburg said it's unknown how the property
will be redeveloped, but assured whatever replaces the Riverside Motor Lodge
will be to benefit the community.