Farmville’s Hotel Weyanoke reopens with 70 guest rooms
The reopening of the historic Hotel Weyanoke in Farmville marks a first for Richmond-based developers Ross Fickenscher and Garrett Shifflett. While they are specialists in historic renovation, they had never before bought and restored a hotel.
“It seemed like a good idea, and we ran with it,” Fickenscher says about the building, which they bought in 2013.
Originally opened in 1925, the hotel served a variety of guests over the years, including the author and lecturer Helen Keller. The building was converted into a home for the elderly in the late 1980s and later became a residence hall for Longwood University sororities.
The original building now includes 27 hotel rooms and four food and beverage venues. “We added a wing to the back of the building with an additional 43 rooms for a total 70 rooms,” Fickenscher says.
The food and beverage operations will include the Sassafras Coffee Bar, Catbird Rooftop Terrace, Effingham’s and Campagna Italian Kitchen and Wine Bar. All of these venues and the hotel will be operated by Williamsburg-based Cornerstone Hospitality.
Fickenscher and Shifflett worked with Hunter Mabry Design and Hightower Collaborative Design to balance the hotel’s historic exterior features with a contemporary interior. “This is a boutique hotel, a destination,” Fickenscher says. “We want you to walk away with the feeling you have really experienced something.”
Construction on the $12 million project began in December 2016. The hotel opened May 7, just in time for graduation weekend for Longwood and nearby Hampden-Sydney College. “Graduation weekend was an important weekend. We wanted to hit those dates,” Shifflett says. “We tried to open sooner, but construction set us back a month.”
The Longwood University Real Estate Foundation supported the project, and the Farmville community has embraced it. “This project was overwhelming in the amount of positive energy we felt from everybody,” says Fickenscher. “It’s something special about this property.”
When the hotel opened in 1925, Farmville held a parade that drew 2,500 people. “It was a big to-do for Farmville,” Shifflett says. “It was touted as the nicest hotel in 50 miles. That’s the way we felt, and that’s why we wanted to bring it back. This isn’t just a building. It’s a strong tie to the community. People seemed to be as excited and enthusiastic about the reopening as they were in 1925.”