WILMINGTON — While a local establishment will remain, the owners have decided to move on to the next part of their life.
Owners Molly and Mark Dullea recently sold the historic General Denver Hotel after 17 years in business to General Denver Investments — which the Dulleas describe as a “corporation run by local people.”
The new owners that we’ll all meet soon are “awesome”, said Molly Dullea. “Really, it’s just time for us to retire.”
While the Dulleas will no longer be owners, they want locals to know that the General Denver’s staff will remain.
“Jen (Purkey) will still be here, running the ship. It’ll be great,” said Molly.
The two came into ownership of the Wilmington establishment after purchasing it from the late Paul Herdman.
“At the time (the General Denver) was empty and unoccupied,” Molly recalled about when she bought it. “Everything had been shut off for a few years. It was in quite a state of disrepair, but there were the bones of a beautiful building.”
Mark told the News Journal before they bought it they would pass by it on their way to Rocky Fork Lake in Hillsboro.
“We used to drive by it and (Molly) used to point it out and say, ‘Look at that cool old building,’” said Mark.
One day, as they were driving past, Molly screamed, “Stop!” according to Mark, after noticing the building was for sale.
When they bought it, the inside was “a wreck,” according to Mark. He thought the building couldn’t be saved. Molly believed it could be and was brainstorming ideas for the place.
Since then, the restaurant and hotel have seen success. The Dulleas are thankful for not only allowing the business to thrive but also welcoming them into the community.
”We truly love Wilmington and Clinton County,” said Molly. “It’s become our hometown; we think of it that way. We do think it’s the center of the universe.”
The community’s embrace isn’t the only thing they’re thankful for. They’re grateful for the memories they collected over the years.
Those include sharing moments with employees and customers — birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, and even seeing employees become parents themselves.
They’ve also enjoyed the eclectic group of visitors to the hotel. Not just from outside the city or county, but they’ve also had visitors from abroad.
Their first hotel guest was a man from New Zealand who was going to meet with his then-girlfriend (now wife) who was cycling the country.
“Our first dollar was a Kiwi dollar,” said Molly.
They’ve also had great memories from the events held at the hotel and adjacent establishments like the Murphy Theatre.
Whether it was decking out the hotel to look like Hogwarts for Harry Potter events, jam sessions from The Drowsy Lads after their concerts, or teaching locals how to do the “Time Warp” for “Rocky Horror Picture Show” screenings.
The Dulleas are eternally grateful for the love and support the community has shown throughout these years.
“To the community, we want to say thank you. We love you — you’ve made all of our dreams come true,” said Molly.
Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574