Gabriella Page Historic Preservation Award

Gabriella Page Historic Preservation Award

January 31, 2005  

General Francis Marion Hotel Receives
Historic Preservation Award 

Richmond , VA – Earlier this month, a committee of statewide preservationists convened at the Richmond office of APVA Preservation Virginia for the challenging task of determining the winners of the 2007 Virginia historic preservation awards. Since 1971, the APVA has presented these awards to deserving individuals, civic and preservation groups, and governmental agencies that have contributed to the effort of preserving the Commonwealth’s historic resources.

The committee presented The General Francis Marion Hotel in Marion , Virginia with the prestigious Gabriella Page Historic Preservation Award. The Page awards, which honor the memory of Gabriella Page, APVA President from 1944 to 1947, are presented for outstanding preservation efforts on the part of organizations or individuals.

The General Francis Marion Hotel is widely recognized as a gem in Marion ’s historic downtown district. Built in 1927, the hotel has been an architectural and social anchor for Marion for over four generations.  The five-story Classical Revival hotel was named in honor of the famed Revolutionary War hero who is also the town’s namesake. The hotel was recently renovated and restored to its original grandeur by Marion residents, Joe and Susie Ellis .

Only three other Gabriella Page Historic Preservation Awards were presented throughout Virginia : Prince William County Historic Preservation Division for the restoration of the Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre; Robert W. Glenn, Jr. for the State and City Building in Roanoke ; and The Prizery, a South Boston community arts center.

The APVA ( presented the 2007 preservation awards on 30 January during the legislative reception at St. Paul ’s Episcopal Church in Richmond . The reception was the culminating event of Virginia Preservation Day. The day’s activities included a legislative orientation, a tour of Monumental Church by the Historic Richmond Foundation, and the opportunity for participants to visit the Virginia General Assembly and meet with legislators.

Other awards received recently by the General Francis Marion Hotel include the Blue Ridge Travel Association’s Tourism Business of the Year for 2006 and the Virginia Downtown Development Association’s Award of Excellence for Building Development and Improvements.

VDDA Award of Excellence

VDDA Award of Excellence


November 3, 2006 

General Francis Marion Hotel Receives Development Award 

Marion , VA – The Virginia Downtown Development Association (VDDA) has announced the winners in the association’s 22nd Annual Awards of Excellence.

The General Francis Marion Hotel was awarded the Award of Excellence in the Building Development and Improvements category in communities of less than 25,000. Awards of Excellence are presented to nominees that are outstanding in concept and implementation.

The VDDA Awards program recognizes and encourages excellence in downtown revitalization throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia . The awards are presented to showcase the achievements of organizations, individuals and government in meeting the challenges of downtown management and development.

The General Francis Marion Hotel ( is widely recognized as a gem in Marion’s historic downtown district. Built in 1927 as “The only fireproof hotel between Roanoke, VA and Knoxville, TN”, the hotel has been an architectural and social anchor for Smyth County’s courthouse town for over four generations.  The “high-rise” five-story U-shaped Classical Revival hotel was named in honor of the famed Revolutionary War hero who is also the town’s namesake.

By the 1980s, the hotel was in decline. Interstate Highway 81 pulled most of the motoring public away from Route 11 – Marion’s Main Street – and the major chain hotels along I-81’s exits proved too competitive for the Hotel to thrive. By 2000, the Hotel was in serious disrepair. That was when local business owners Joe and Susie Ellis saw an opportunity to return the property to life as the center of Marion’s historic downtown by purchasing and renovating the hotel. The General Francis Marion Hotel reopened on February 17, 2006, after years of planning, design, and reconstruction. It was recently awarded the prestigious “Three Diamond” status from AAA. 

Marion has been a certified Virginia Main Street Community since 1995, and has been recognized as a National Main Street Community by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  Since November 1995, Marion’s downtown district has seen a reinvestment of over $20 million in public and private dollars, a net growth of 45 new businesses and 175 new jobs, producing an average annual increase in the downtown payroll of over $4 million. The Ellis’s reinvestment in the General Francis Marion Hotel accounts for almost one-quarter of that total reinvestment and half of the private dollars spent to revitalize Marion’s historic downtown district.  The reopening of a downtown hotel, with a fine dining restaurant, an art gallery, and meeting space adds a much-needed anchor to the emerging after-hours culture of the town, and continues to attract attention from local, regional, and national publications and organizations.

In the October 2006 issue of Virginia Living magazine, writer Laura Parsons describes the hotel and its rebirth:  “With a love of architecture and an eye for detail, Susie Ellis has personally supervised every aspect of the hotel’s $4 million overhaul. With all new plumbing and wiring, the rooms now number 36.  In compliance with preservation standards, however, all the old door facades still grace the halls.  A subtle green, gold, and blue color scheme runs throughout the hotel, but every room is individual, containing slightly different furnishings and accents. In addition, the third floor offers specially designed handicapped-accessible rooms, and the entire facility is smoke-free.”

“It has taken a talented team of people to make this dream a reality,” said Ms. Ellis upon receiving the award. “The successful implementation of a project of this magnitude could only be accomplished by a strong project team with a common understanding and appreciation for the project goals”.

The team consisted of property owners, Joe and Susie Ellis; Spectrum Design, a regional architecture firm with a community focus and passion for historic projects; Burwil Construction of Bristol, a company with significant historic restoration experience; and design consultant Julia Schwab.

“Our goals were to update the facility with modern conveniences, keep the historic elements whenever possible, forego historic aspects only when they compromised the business plan, and retain the spirited elegance of this Roaring Twenties boutique hotel,” Ms. Ellis said. “We are very proud of this award and the recognition of our hotel and its contribution to Marion ’s historic downtown,” she concluded.