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Sunday, April 3, 2011
Hotel Frederick & Glenn's Cafe, Boonville
Corner of High and Main Streets, Boonville
“Remember your room number. Our guests usually return and they get attached to their room. Each room is different.”
Wise words from the maître d’hôtel.
I wandered the halls before dinner, admiring the old maps and lithographs that lined the walls of this majestic hotel. The maître d’, already my friend, equipped me with an ice cooler and answered a few routine questions with genuine hospitality. Ostensibly in Boonville for the Big Muddy Folk Festival, I was really there as the lucky winner of a Facebook contest for friends of Hotel Frederick.
Glenn’s Cafe, formerly one of Columbia's most beloved restaurants, moved to Boonville to joint venture with the restored Hotel Frederick, in 2004. Columbians miss Glenn’s. Like visiting an old friend, the menu had changed very little, all my favorites there just for the tasting. It was a busy night; I sat by the kitchen doors and happily watched and listened to the bustling staff and rapidly swinging doors of the kitchen.
I returned to the hotel after the concert to savor the fact that I was alone, living in the present, and not reflecting on days past or what the future might bring. A realization took hold that out in the real world all is new each day.
Laying on my daybed in the front room, I read a bit from Gift from the Sea, a book that bears re-reading at least once a decade. I found my self drifting but in awe of Room 11. From the Persian Gabbeh rugs to the authentic antiques and the magic of the old walls--oh the stories they could tell! And the bathroom: black and white floors, a stained glass door, and colors everywhere.
Earlier, I asked the maître d’ if the homemade soap in dishes at the front desk accounted for the lobby's scent. “Yes,” and he told me to look for several complimentary bars in my room. In addition, he mentioned that the staff “washes the sheets with homemade detergent using the same ingredients," which created a mild layering of the smell. When I finally slipped into my sheets the light aroma reminded me that being present really is the only place to live.
This beautiful Gibson ice chest was located
in the Breakfast Room.
Hotel Frederick offers a morning continental breakfast. A community table promoted conversation with other Hotel Frederickans. It seemed appropriate that a block from the Old Jail (that housed Frank James) I would be striking up conversation with a Jesse James aficionado. This gifted storyteller delighted me with tales ranging from his leaving Columbia “with the posse on his back” in the late night of the late 1970s because his perception of the town’s intolerance for the peace movement to seeing Frank James’s ear nailed to a board in Northfield, Minnesota--the town where my niece attends college (St. Olaf). Several interesting stories continued, one being of “a mean old lady” who claimed to have a cave on her land where Jesse James lived. My new friend said that she sold rocks off the cave and then went to the river and brought more rocks up to the site. "What a fraud," he mumbled.
Room 11 at the Hotel Frederick is my new home away from home.
A few interesting facts:
*Hotel Frederick was built in 1905 for a cost of $40,000.
*It is the best example of Romanesque Revival architecture in the region and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
*From 1901-1964 it operated as a hotel. Following the sale, the building served as a weekend restaurant, a retirement center, and even a Greyhound bus depot.
*When the hotel was purchased in 2004 with the commitment to return it to his former glory, the renovations alone were at least $4 million.