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Historian Inn off to rousing start

Linda Hiller

It’s not old, but it will make you think of the old days.

It’s not historic, but it’s filled with memorabilia, relics and old photographs that bring Carson Valley history to life.

The Historian Inn, opened on April 26, is, first of all, a business, but in creating that potentially profitable investment, its developers gave much thought to what would be good for downtown Gardnerville and the Carson Valley.

The result is a hotel full of the past and the future. This weekend’s Carson Valley Days is one of the first events to bring in reservations for rooms, even before the building was finished.

“I started taking reservations around four months ago, in February, and there were quite a few people who booked rooms then to stay here during Carson Valley Days,” said General Manager Jeannie Johnson. “They’ll have a great view of the parade from the balcony and we’re close to everything.”

Johnson is one of four partners in Nevada Johnson Ventures, Inc., which also includes her husband Greg, his brother Kirk and wife Gina. The four Johnsons, longtime Valley residents and businesspersons, wanted to build something that was in harmony with Gardnerville’s history and would, hopefully, stand as an example to future developers.

“We want to help build up downtown Gardnerville,” Johnson said. “We hope others will follow. The JT started it, with their beautiful restoration.”

n Take a reading tour. Inside the hotel lobby, always stocked with snacks, coffee and tea, is a display of Greg’s casino chip collection that includes examples from area gambling establishments including Sharkey’s, Topaz Lodge, Caesars Tahoe, The Golden Bank Club, Carson Valley Inn, Harveys and more.

The lobby also has some beautiful old photographs of the Carson Valley, provided and framed by Lone Tree Frame in Minden, owned by Barry Jobe.

Also in the lobby is a display case of historic items that will be changed quarterly. The Carson Valley Historical Society, with curator Cecile Brown’s guidance, will provide loaned items for that case, Johnson said.

Off the lobby is a 520-square-foot room that soon will house the Historian Mercantile, a gift, gourmet food and souvenir shop, scheduled to open in one to two months.

A 570-square-foot banquet and conference space is next to the store and will be set up with high speed Internet access and equipment to allow conference participants to come only with their software, rather than having to bring their computers and individual systems to meetings. The room will be convertible to wedding receptions, complete with catering options from area restaurants, Johnson said.

“Depending on what they want, we’re going to use all local restaurants for the catering,” she said.

Each of the 35 rooms at the Inn has historic photos, with each business suite room bearing a theme – the Lake Tahoe room, the Dressler room, the Genoa room, the Gardnerville room, the Minden room, the JT room, Sharkey’s room, the Washoe room and the Dangberg room. All 35 rooms are non-smoking.

The rooms also contain a 25-inch television, an in-room coffee maker, an ironing board and iron, hair dryer and soap dispenser.

“We really hate waste,” Johnson said. “Do you know that even if someone doesn’t take a packet of soap if we provide it, we have to throw it out? With the dispenser we bypass that.”

Basic rates at the Historian Inn run $69 to $79 for a single and $79 to $89 for a double room, with increases during holiday periods and special events. Every guest also receives a day pass to David Walley’s Resort and Hot Springs south of Genoa, and a complimentary continental breakfast each morning.

n Summer is nearly booked. The investment of $2.6 million on the project is looking pretty sound, less than two months after opening, Johnson said.

“We are pretty booked through summer,” she said. “The response has been amazing – we’re full July 7 -8 for the Death Ride weekend and the Fourth of July is full, too. We do refer to other hotels and motels and they do to us. We’re all working together, I think, to keep people in the Carson Valley.”

Receptionist Leslie Wiswell of Topaz said hotel guests came from as far away as Sweden this week.

“I’d say we’ve already had around 300 people stay here – most of them from California – but the trio from Sweden was the most distant,” she said.

The Historian Inn is located at 1427 Highway 395 in Gardnerville. For more information, call 783-1175 or go to the Web site, http://www.HistorianInn.com