Friday, January 31, 2014

The Story Of The Stairs

Without debate, one of the most unique gifts that renovation brought to the hotel was the addition of the suspended, spiral staircase.  The elegant fixture that became the centerpiece of the new hotel lobby was designed and built by the Driwood Moulding Company of Florence, South Carolina (

The Driwood Moulding Company designed & built
 the spiral staircase and extensive bannister.

Randell Gelzer, General Manager and 
Executive Vice President of Driwood started with the company in 1971 at the age of 28 and has been with the company ever since.  Despite the many projects he has helmed over the years, Mr. Gelzer recalls working on the staircase that his company designed specifically for the Crown Hotel back in 1980.
St. Petersburg Times -
May 5, 2004.
Photo: Ron Thompson

A former pilot in the US Air Force, Mr. Gelzer would periodically fly his twin-engine Navajo airplane from Florence to Inverness in order to discuss the project and take measurements in preparation of the staircase.  He recalls landing his plane on the rural runway of the Inverness Airport one time in particular when he was met by a Sheriff's deputy who questioned him as to the purpose of his visit.  He assured the curious constable that he was there on legitimate business as part of the team renovating the old Colonial Hotel.  

And on another visit he made to Inverness in order to supervise workers who would perform the installation of the staircase, he was met with quite a unique site - the entire hotel was covered in tarps.  One of the stages of the extensive renovation involved fully tenting the whole structure for termite fumigation - an event which accidentally coincided with his visit.

Citrus Times - Bob Moreland

Regardless of the challenges Mr. Gelzer met in Inverness, his two man crew of artists worked tirelessly back in South Carolina for over 12 weeks (in excess of 1,000 man hours) building and crafting the one-of-a-kind staircase.  Once completed, the one-piece staircase was loaded onto a truck where it traveled almost 450 miles to Inverness.   A testament to the true skill and craftsmanship of its designers and builders, the grand staircase installed with ease and took its proper place as part of the new hotel lobby.   Mr. Gelzer and his team at Driwood created an object of art and wonder which, to this day, does not cease to amaze those who walk through the front doors.   

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