Much has been written about The Commodore Hotel & Cafe in Perry County. The amazing story of historic preservation and rural revitalization sparked by the interests and passions of a northeast couple has been covered by NPR and Forbes.
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Writers like me have even documented their stays at the historic bank turned hotel, cafe, and speakeasy. In these accounts, you can find a wealth of information about the amenities and experiences offered by owners Kathy and Michael Dumont.
But what I find more fascinating about a place isn’t its amenities; I want to know more about its character. To my honor and amusement, I’ve had many opportunities to explore the character of The Commodore Hotel & Cafe. I’ve been a patron of this establishment on several occasions–usually as a spectator of live music provided by my husband, Matt Hundley, in the hotel’s restaurant.
The Dumonts know us by name and we’ve developed great friendships with many regulars, including the owner of the county’s radio station who also works full-time as a Fox News extreme weather reporter and the gray-haired jeweler down the street who sold my husband and I our wedding bands last year.
Every time I visit The Commodore Hotel & Cafe, I meet someone with a story unlike any other I’ve heard before. It’s one of the qualities of this place that the Dumonts appreciate too.
“What attracted us to Linden was land that we fell in love with,” Kathy said. “But what really stuck out to me was how friendly the people were, the laid-back way of life, and the nature...”
In late 2020, I met a man who had recently moved from Pennsylvania. He had a job with one of the big vaccine manufacturers that he couldn’t tell me much about. But he could tell me about the home with a view of elephants rescued through The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald that this job allowed him to purchase.
This time, on a humid July evening, I collected even more powerful stories.
While chatting with the Fox News reporter in the speakeasy, I met an anesthesiologist from Memphis who bought a former yoga and wellness center on several acres in the area. He kept the swings installed in one of the rooms and called it his home away from home–a place where he can find calm after a week of chaos at work.
A young man who was designing lighting systems for clubs in Miami a few months ago is now managing the impressive light show for night kayakers on the Buffalo River, which the Dumonts offer as a perk for hotel guests.
After closing time at the restaurant, I overheard one of the waitresses give a gut wrenching rendition of Tyler Childers’ “Whitehouse Road” from the mic stand. If you listen closely when you’re there on a weekend evening, you can hear her from your room upstairs too.
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Sure. I could use my words to describe in painstaking detail the Dumonts’ restoration of 1939 architectural elements throughout the hotel rooms, the sweet and tangy Linden sauce that made it so easy to slide their burger down my throat, and the bubbly atmosphere of the speakeasy where everyone congregated for a post-dinner drink. More interesting is what the business is to locals and tourists today.
Located on Main Street in Perry County, with a population of just over 8,000 people, The Commodore Hotel & Cafe is a place of retreat from a society that tells you to do more, buy more, and be more. Here, you can access everything you need to have an enjoyable day or night within a 2 mile radius of the hotel. Plus, you certainly aren’t expected to come as anyone else other than who you are.
If I were you, I’d make a point not only to visit The Commodore Hotel & Cafe as soon as possible but also to visit it more than once. I guarantee the experience will leave you with more than a full stomach, perhaps a slight hangover, and a great night of rest. You’ll drive away from Linden with a new perspective on life brought to you by the other compelling characters who have discovered this magical place too.