concept that eventually led to the development of The Village Inn
started in 1928, when O.K. Early of Harrisonburg wanted to provide
travelers with a comfortable place to stay on the busy road of U.S.
Route 11. On property across from what are now the Rockingham
County Fairgrounds, Early built The Green Lantern cottages. Six
years later, in 1934, Early moved across the street to build Oak
Leigh; but two years later, in 1936, Early moved again - this time
just a few hundred yards south to build Pure Village Cottages -
known today, as The Village Inn.
The 1941 Directory of Accommodations
from the American Automobile Association lists the Inn as:
2006 (bottom) Click any photo above to enlarge.
Village Cottages...A group of comfortable Steam-heated Cottages
consisting of 26 units, 6 with private tile bath, 20 with connecting
bath. Nicely furnished...private garages...electric fans and radio
in every cottage. Rates: $2.50 to $3.50 for two persons, $4 to $6
for four persons..."
Early (present owner of The Village Inn) began working for his father at
age 12; and in 1946, after returning from his service in World Word II,
Kermit Early began managing the property. He attended Bridgewater College
in the mornings and worked at Pure Village in the afternoons and evenings.
Building a kitchen and living area into one of the cottages, Kermit even
lived in what is now Room 104 with his wife, Jean, during the first years
of their marriage.
Over the years, The Village Inn has undergone several changes to keep up
with the public demands of travel amenities. What started as steam heated
motels with oil stoves, no water, and community shower/toilet systems
eventually went on to become charming private rooms with remote controlled
colored televisions, carpeted floors, whirlpool-tubs, swimming pools,
kitchenettes, suites, and decks. And today, high-speed Internet access and
in-room coffee makers have been added.
Kermit's son, Kevin Early, who has worked at The Village Inn since he was
"old enough to walk", says: "Whirlpools, decks, and our new Suite (the
only one in Harrisonburg) have made us competitive and popular." Listings
in the AAA and Mobil guides have also given them a national following.
Last year, The Philadelphia Enquirer featured The Village Inn within a
story about East Coast getaways.
A true family business, The Village Inn, continues to operate with help
from several members of the Early family. Kevin Early, his three sisters,
and mother Jean, have all worked at the Inn over the years. In fact, Jean
still bakes her homemade pies and desserts for the dining room and
provides color for the lobby with trimmings from her own flower garden.
Today, renovations to rooms continue to be thorough. It is not unusual to
see a print by P. Buckley Moss hanging in a room or richly decorated
upholstery on the furniture. In the center of rural farmland, each deck
holds a spectacular view. Each room has been fitted with individual
climate controls. Sensors on the doors and windows save energy by shutting
off air units when they are ajar.
Though small, The Village Inn has remained competitive and on top of
changes in the industry. Every room is clean and unique. Kermit ponders
what changes will take place in the future: "Who is to say what else will
change? What's after Whirlpools and decks as a feature? When color TVs
came, I might have asked what's after color TVs? We are aware of the
change of time, whether we can or will [change] is another story," Kermit
The years have been good to the Earlys and they have been good to their
customers and employees. In the motel where Shirley Temple Black, Eleanor
Roosevelt, and Gene Austin have all stayed and eaten, a new generation of
loyal customers and employees can be found. Future advancements in room
design might be uncertain for Kermit and Kevin Early, but one thing will
assuredly hold true, good customer service and family charm will take The
Village Inn well into the generations ahead.
Adapted from an article written in July, 1994 by Jeff Miller of the
Shenandoah Valley Business Journal. Excerpts from that article and
information contained here have been reprinted with permission.
The Village Inn Dining Room
The Village Inn Dining Room
Above Taken From
Archive Postcard Illustrations