Reviewed by: Callie Morrison
A new boutique hotel is on its way to Cullman, and it’s telling an inspiring story. Keep reading for all the details on The Flying Fifty.
The story of ‘The Flying Fifty Hotel’
First, let’s address the unique name of the hotel. The Flying Fifty was a group of men (48 of them, actually) who transformed the history of Cullman. Here’s how the founders of The Flying Fifty Hotel, Challie and Paul Knetter, tell the story:
“In the 1950s, during a time when many residents were forced to seek employment outside of Alabama, a transformative moment unfolded in Cullman. Mrs. Betty Bledsoe received a casual phone call from a friend, who had just eaten at the All Steak restaurant and was bound for Mississippi with a group of men to locate land for a King Edward’s Cigar Plant. After the call, Betty alerted her husband, Dr. Leroy Bledsoe, and the Chamber of Commerce hastily convened.
The following morning, a group of forty-eight men, self-dubbed ‘The Flying Fifty,’ boarded planes on a mission to meet with the board of directors at King Edward’s headquarters. During this meeting, the Flying Fifty effectively persuaded Mr. Swisher to designate Cullman as the location for their plant.
However, the agreement came with a condition—Cullman needed to develop a suitable plot of land for the plant. Undeterred, the community rallied together, raising funds and erecting a modest structure affectionately known as ‘The Cigar Shack’ on the Courthouse lawn. Even the youngest members of the community contributed pocket change, demonstrating the collective commitment to the cause. Local radio stations joined the effort, suspending regular programming to champion the town’s initiative.
This chapter of Cullman’s history stands as a testament to our community spirit and ingenuity. The Flying Fifty, with their determination and resourcefulness, played a pivotal role ensuring a brighter future for our town.”
When + where you can find The Flying Fifty Hotel
The new hotel, paying tribute to this group, will feature seven suites, each based on different aspects of Cullman’s history and heritage. In addition, you’ll find locally-made products throughout The Flying Fifty Hotel, spotlighting both the past and present of Cullman’s local community.
The Knetters plan to welcome guests to The Flying Fifty Hotel very soon! Here are the details:
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