Ever wonder what you could do to get a room in a AAA four-diamond hotel, in downtown Greenville, for less than $10 a night?
You might do what the Rev. Charles and Frances Hamlin did and keep the original receipt from your stay there 68 years ago.
That receipt was part of the reason the Hamlins will be allowed to pay $8 in the revamped Poinsett – the Westin Poinsett – to celebrate their 68th wedding anniversary Nov. 27.
Hamlin considered the $8 cost for a room there “pretty expensive” in 1947.
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Times have changed a little bit, said John Geddes, the Westin Poinsett’s director of sales and marketing. Today, you’re talking $250 to $300 more than what the Hamlins paid that night, he said.
The hotel would have given the Hamlins a room free to mark their special anniversary, Geddes said.
But, “just for fun we’re charging $8. We wanted to replicate that as part of the experience,” Geddes said.
The Hamlins, who now live in Liberty, were both 20 when they made the trek from Williamston to Greenville on their wedding night.
After the ceremony, in the living room of their former pastor’s home, they drove to Greenville.
Hamlin, a U.S. Navy veteran, was a construction worker who wanted to spare no expense for his new bride. He wanted his wedding night in the best hotel Greenville had to offer.
The Poinsett Hotel then “was as glamorous as hotels are,” Hamlin said. “It was the best hotel in town.”
The 200-room, four-diamond hotel was built by W.L Stoddard in 1925 for $1.5 million, according to the Westin Poinsett web site. When it opened, it was “one of the most beautifully furnished hotels in the country.”
Among its notable guests were Amelia Earhardt, John Barrymore, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Bobby Kennedy and Liberace, according to the web site.
By the 1930s, the hotel had become known as “Carolina’s Finest.” Years later it would go into foreclosure.
In 1997, Steven Dopp and Gregory Lenox of Charleston bought the hotel and reopened it in 2000 after nearly $20 million in renovations.
When the Hamlins stayed there, not every room had a bathroom, Charles said. But their room on the fifth floor did. It was one of the nicer ones, he said.
The Hamlins, who had met in church, have not been back to the hotel since their honeymoon.
After their wedding night, and an 11-day honeymoon, the couple returned to Greenville and eventually moved to Columbia to raise a family.
Charles, who attended Easley High School, continued his work in construction before returning to school and becoming a pastor.
Over the years, the couple has traveled extensively, visiting 48 states, London and Canada.
“We’ve had a wonderful life,” said Frances, who graduated from Pendleton High School.
They went to Niagara Falls on their 30th anniversary, Jamaica on their 40th anniversary, but on their 50th, Charles was battling melanoma.
He also was battling cancer this past summer when a conversation among friends turned to the subject of marriage, longevity, and anniversaries.
Charles mentioned that he had thought about asking the Westin Poinsett if they could get a rerun of their first visit to the hotel at the same price.
Some told Charles it wasn’t likely, but that didn’t stop him.
“I just thought it would be a fun thing to try,” he said.
Geddes said it’s not unusual for the hotel to have guests return to recreate an experience they’ve had there, be it a wedding, honeymoon, prom or some other significant occasion.
What is unusual about the Hamlins is they still have the original receipt from 68 years ago, he said.
“It’s very neat,” Geddes said. “It was kind of a no-brainer for us to recreate the magical night.”