This is Congress Hall, the hotel whose owners have twice flown me up to do illustrations of this and other properties. This past trip (last week) was for me to be able to paint their many and varied Christmas activities. It was a perfect way to start the season for me. The family has created a marvelous holiday atmosphere, complete with a brilliant off-season use of the pool area as a German-feeling Christmas market. (But with hot chocolate spiked with Bailey's instead of the German gluhwine -- a vast improvement, to my mind.)
This trip I was able to stay in Congress Hall itself, which is a lovely old building with a double grand stairway upstairs that has railings that feel like silk from generations' worth of hands trailing along them. I adore old buildings, and this is a lovely and very welcoming-feeling one. The lobby, complete with its own tree, is shown below.
They are incredibly hospitable to me when I stay. At Congress Hall, I was delighted to find a New York Times outside my door every morning. And they feed me beautifully all week. They not only have wonderful restaurants on the campus (see the Blue Pig Tavern below), but the staff went out of their way to make me feel welcome, since I was there traveling alone. This is a rare sort of job for a self-employed artist to find, and I still can't believe my luck. Even better, they say they're having me back in the spring. I can't wait.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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