When walking down the Gatlinburg Parkway, you probably wouldn’t realize it, but a large part of Gatlinburg’s rich history is still preserved among the shops and attractions. Across the street from Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum, the Gatlinburg Inn, a living, breathing part of Gatlinburg’s yesteryears, sits nestled among the hustle and bustle of the busy mountain tourist town.
The Gatlinburg Inn
The Gatlinburg Inn was the third major hotel constructed in Gatlinburg. Built between 1937 and 1940 by the late R.L. Maples, the Gatlinburg Inn was home to the city offices between 1946 and 1947, Gatlinburg’s first press newspaper started at the inn, and Gatlinburg’s first dentist once had an office at the Gatlinburg Inn. Some of the famous figures who have once laid down their heads in the Gatlinburg Inn include:
- “Larry Bird” Johnson
- Dinah Shore
- J.C. Penney
- Tennessee Ernie Ford
- Melville Bell Grosvenor
The Gatlinburg Inn is also a silver screen star, having appeared in the 1970 movie A Walk in the Spring Rain. Room 388 at the Gatlinburg Inn is especially historic. It was in this room that Felice and Boudleaux Bryant wrote “Rocky Top,” Tennessee’s state song, in 1967.
Wilma Maples, wife of the late R.L. Maples, still runs the Gatlinburg Inn today. Mrs. Maples, on top of owning and operating one of the most historic landmarks in Gatlinburg, was one of the first employees of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Dedication to the Park and the community is something Mrs. Wilma Maples still possesses and is known for today. She is a regular donor to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, her most significant donation being 100 acres for the Park to extend its boundaries. She was also a significant donor for establishing a Walters State Community College campus in Sevier County.
So, the next time you’re in Gatlinburg, veer off the beaten path of the Gatlinburg Parkway and stop by the Gatlinburg Inn to take in a piece of Tennessee history still standing and operating in downtown Gatlinburg. Or, give them a call and make your reservation to stay there and sleep with history.