I’m staying in the Ambassador Suite in The Consulate, a favorite place to stay for my wife and me. It’s a
huge 2 bedroom apartment, 12-1500 Sq. Ft that is in a restored commercial building on the waterfront
in Apalach. The Willis family has done a great job of restoring and operating this 100+ year old property.
It houses a clothing store, The Grady Market, and 4 apartments upstairs that are rented out short term.
Our apartment has a great kitchen and is a good entertaining space that we have taken advantage of the past couple of years, but the main attraction is the large glass wall (actually large old windows) looking out over the bay and the busy waterfront. One can sit all day and not tire of watching the parade of fishing boats and pleasure craft. This waterfront is the mouth of the Apalachicola River and is part of the Intercostal Waterway, accounting for the traffic, along with fishing, both commercial and sport. There is also a deck overlooking the bay that is nice for late afternoon cocktails and early morning coffee.
For the next 3 days I try to help Mel and his co-worker Jim, both master craftsmen and restoration experts, as best I can but I’m mostly good at running errands. In a past life (1976) I was a carpenter but my skills have diminished greatly and they never were up to snuff with this crew. I can do grunt work but Mel and Jim are reluctant to ask, given my advanced age. The most helpful I can be is conferring with Mel on decisions about what to do and not do, layout, and finishes. I always will do what Mel wants as he is the acknowledged expert, but he seems to value my opinion so I give it.
I’m especially excited about the apartments (rooms) upstairs as the readers of this blog may be able to
use them. There will be two small rooms with queen beds and a small bathroom and two larger rooms
with a king bed, nice large bathrooms and a second sleeping option (day bed or loft). All will share a
full kitchen and numerous decks and porches will have spectacular views of the bay. We hope to have
enough period furniture to make the experience seem like a boarding house from 100 years ago.
The temporary sign on the downstairs front window reads, “Coming soon, Bowery General Store and Tea Room/Wine Bar (with slightly used TVs for sale).” The last business in the building closed in the 70’s and amongst other things they repaired TVs. There were about 30 of them circa 1950-60’s left in the building. We took the best looking and put about 10 in the shop windows.With all the gawkers that
a restoration attracts, the TV’s have been a hot topic of conservation around town. Mel was smart to
restore the front façade first before spending months doing structural repairs, which were many. The
restored fronts have created a buzz about town and excitement for the coming stores. We hope to open
everything in 2013. Apalachicola is a gem and I think most would enjoy a few days here. We’re happy to
be a part of it.
The long (16 hour) drive home alone was uneventful but I learned a lot of American history from my
Learning Company CD’s. I enjoyed this trip, especially my time with Mel, and my time in Apalach, but
I was happy to get back to my wife and family. I have a one year old grandson and he needs to see
his “Papa Jim”, or is the other way around.