Blog Post

A visit to Monterey, Tenn., and historic Imperial Hotel

Sweetums and I stumbled across the small town of Monterey, Tenn., population about 2,800, on a road trip in the spring. We just drove through, due to COVID restrictions, but it was a quaint town so we took a few photos and I looked up the history when I got home.

Monterey was once a resort town, where people came to get the benefits of mountain air and spring water, according to this online history. Its motto was “Where hilltops kiss the sky”.  

According to the blog Tennessee Mountain Stories, “During the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Monterey, Tennessee enjoyed a thriving resort business. After the railroad came through town in 1890, people began to ride the rails to this mountain top town where they enjoyed mineral spring waters, world-class dining and beautiful gardens manicured just for the tourists.”  

The town was once dotted with resort hotels. Today, the only surviving hotel apparently served a more practical purpose, providing room and board for those traveling by train and for rail employees. The Imperial Hotel was built in 1909 by Gen. John T. Wilder.

The exterior of the Imperial Hotel building has been restored but I couldn’t determine whether there are plans to reopen it. Click here to see a site run by a group of people who hope to save the Imperial Hotel.

The 30-room hotel had indoor plumbing, making it quite cutting edge for its day. The three-story hotel also has a restaurant.

Here are some of our photos from Monterey:

A historic home in Monterey, Tenn. (Photo by Wil Elrick)
in Monterey, Tenn. (Photo by Wil Elrick)
in Monterey, Tenn. (Photo by Wil Elrick)
in Monterey, Tenn. (Photo by Brian Stansberry | Wikimedia Commons)
The depot in Monterey, Tenn. (Photo by Wil Elrick)
Downtown Monterey, Tenn. (Photo by Wil Elrick)
The depot in Monterey, Tenn. (Photo by Wil Elrick)
Sweetums with a train in Monterey, Tenn. (Photo by Wil Elrick)

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