New owners plan to restore historic Highland Inn to its former glory

Courtesy Highland Inn

The century-old Highland Inn and its adjoining restaurant and row of shops in Poncey-Highland are under new ownership.

Michael Garber and Ben McLoughlin, partners in Canvas Companies, bought the properties last month with an eye toward preservation. The future of the property had been in flux after previous owner Thomas Carmichael applied for a demolition permit last summer as he weighed his options on keeping or selling the hotel.

“Ben and I had our eye on the Highland Inn,” Garber said in Feb. 26 interview. “We had kept the property on our radar and it fell into our laps.”

To calm the fears of the Poncey-Highland neighborhood and the city at large, Garber wanted to make one thing clear about the Highland Inn: “We have no intentions to tear it down.”

Garber said he and McLoughlin are both Intown residents and have a passion for historic buildings and preserving the history of Atlanta.

So, what are the duo’s plans? Garber said they are exploring a “flexible model” that would mix short-term and long-term tenants. “We’re thinking of people who might be in town working on a movie, or perhaps in the city on a consulting job, and even those who might have had water damage at their home and need a place to stay while repairs are being done.”

He said whatever rental model is decided for the 112-room hotel, the restaurant space would also remain and a “high level of service and amenities” would be introduced. An interior courtyard between the hotel’s two wings will also be activated with regular events.

The Highland Ballroom space in the basement, known for hosting everything from indie bands to poetry readings, will also remain as a “key component” to the property’s future.

A historic postcard image of the Highland Inn when it was known as Wynnes Apartment Hotel.

The adjoining shops, which currently include Highland Row Antiques and The Shave barbershop, will be updated as well and Garber said they hope to keep the slate of tenants in place.

Garber said he’s also interested in potentially bringing back the hotel’s original façade from the 1920s when it was known as Wynnes Apartment Hotel. “The historic façade is still behind there, but we need to examine the condition,” he said.

Canvas Companies recently completed work on restoring 112 Ormond St. in Summerhill, which is now home to Noble Clay Fitness and Talat Market, and is finishing up work on restoring The Oasis on Cascade, an apartment complex on Cascade Avenue.