Twenty years ago the Outside Inn opened its doors and welcomed folks to check out the new and improved Airway Motel. The motel has had a lot of history, but when my mother, Evans Phelps, took ownership of the property in the winter of 1997 she had a lot of work ahead of her. After months of renovations and construction, the Inn opened for business in June of 1998.
My sister, Megan Michelson, remembered looking back, “Why was she trying to buy this dumpy motel? But she had such a vision. She saw its potential when nobody else did. And they worked so hard to turn it around, gutting everything but somehow keeping its historical charm. It was like Field of Dreams. If you build it, they will come. People showed up and loved it. And it was such a family affair from day one. Mom teaching me hospital corners to make beds, how to fold fitted sheets, and how to clean windows with newspaper so they didn’t streak and vinegar to clean the floors. She hired all my high school friends, even though we were terrible cleaners. We needed summer jobs. I remember roll practice in the pool for local kayakers, bike washing station and outdoor shower for mountain bikers, the big wall sized map with all the trails, so people could find their way and have an adventure all their own. It wasn’t so much a motel, a place to sleep, but a gathering spot for people who wanted to experience what Nevada City had to offer – the shops, the restaurants, the river. It still is that today, thanks to you.”
I’m honored to be able to continue the family legacy of business for the last 7 1/2 years. I love that people feel at home when they come to visit us, whether it’s the unique furnishings in the rooms, to the ceramic coffee cups or the local photographs on the wall. I love seeing the families grow, from the couple who got engaged while staying at the motel, who returns years later with their children, to the grandparents who come to come for the 1st birthday all the way through to the high school graduations. I feel honored that the Outside Inn has touched so many people’s lives, whether it was the first place they stayed when they came to Nevada City, or they visited with us for a family member’s wedding or their annual summer vacation. So thank you, to all of you, for being a part of this journey. My mother had the vision, but it has taken countless people over the years to be a part of the larger Outside Inn family, so thank you.
© 2018 InnSide Nevada City, Photos © by Erica Rewey and Evans Phelps