Written by David Shivers
Under its new ownership by Albany natives Stewart Campbell and Bo Henry, Merry Acres Inn & Conference Center on Dawson Road is continuing the legacy and family heritage it has embraced for nearly 60 years.
Stewart Campbell’s father, David Campbell, who has his own long history in food and catering services, spoke to the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County at a special August 13 meeting at the center about Merry Acres’ history and its current status.
In 1935 Dr. Russell L. Grace,Sr., bought a 500-site that included an old farmhouse, horse stables, pecan orchards, and pasture. Another 200 acres was added later and eventually became the site of Merry Acres Hotel and Merry Acres Subdivision. Mrs. Grace landscaped the acreage with pine trees, azaleas, and camellias and bestowed the name “Merry Acres” on the property.
According to David Campbell, still in use today is the stone building where Mrs. Grace made sausage and cooked “chit’lins.”
Former Atlanta Crackers baseball player “Spec” Dozier had married the Graces’ daughter Jean, and after the property passed to them he built the first Merry Acres motel, a 22-unit facility with a swimming pool and for which the manor house became the registration center. After several upgrades over the decades, the lodgings now total 110 guest rooms and suites, and Merry Acres Restaurant and the conference center now round out the overall facility. “Spec” and Jean Dozier’s children, Gerry Dozier and Gail Stanfill, had inherited the property and sold it to the Henry-Campbell Stewbo’s consortium a couple of years ago.
David Campbell said the word “local” means a lot to the partners. Everything involved in the business and renovation has been obtained locally, including interior decorating and accounting services. They are intent on maintaining local participation and the family tradition of excellence.
After being closed for a period, Merry Acres Restaurant has re-opened, said Campbell. “We served 350 people there on Sunday (for lunch),” he reported.
Guests staying at Merry Acres Inn will find tastefully-decorated rooms that feature historic period touches but with all the amenities expected of modern lodging accommodations, including flat-screen TVs and Internet access, along with a complimentary hot Southern breakfast. Also on-site are banquet/meeting facilities, room service and a pub, a gym, and a 24-hour business center. Complimentary shuttle service is available to and from Albany’s Southwest Georgia Regional Airport.
The Stewbo’s partnership also includes The Catch Seafood & Oyster Bar, Harvest Moon Pizza, and Henry Campbell’s Steakhouse. Shuttle service is available to these dining spots as well.
David Campbell also reported that he is recovering well from his recent bout with pancreatic cancer, in which he underwent surgery and treatment at Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.