Holiday Inn of Clemson

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The Holiday Inn of Clemson was one of the first hotel chains to come to the college community, opening in September 1969 after creation of the Highway 123 By-Pass, later Tiger Boulevard. Located on the eastern side of Lake Hartwell, south of the highway, it would serve as lodging for many visitors to Clemson, including football fans, business people, visiting athletic teams and others, and its restaurant would serve as a popular gathering place for many years. Coach Frank Howard was a regular at the "Coffee Club" held in the morning. It also featured the Sandlapper Lounge, as it was named in the 1970s, that was open from 4 p.m. to midnight.

Featuring three wings of two-story rooms with 219 units, and a large banquet facility seating up to 550, it would support many university functions over the years. The Tiger Band banquet was held here throughout the 1970s and 1980s,as well as Alumni Association events. The innkeeper and general manager was James R. Ensley from 1973 to 2003. He is retired in Clemson as of 2008.

As newer lodging was built in Clemson, and the old Holiday Inn-style architecture became outdated, the hotel dropped the franchise in 1998 and was renamed the Lake Hartwell Inn. The business closed altogether in 2006. As of 2009, the moribund property is slated to be redeveloped into condominiums.

An anecdote[edit]

"One morning over at our Coffee Club at the Holiday Inn we were talking about the success many of my former players had achieved. I had just made a comment that I had several former players who became preachers. And wouldn't you know it, about that time one of them walked in the motel dining room. His name was Joe Bowen. He married a local Clemson girl. They had come back to visit her parents and at the same time get some good home cooking. I called Joe over to where we were drinking coffee. I said, 'Reverend Bowen, did you ever play football for me?' And he answered, 'Hell, yes. And I heard the Lord's name used more often on the football practice field than I ever did in seminary.'" - Frank Howard, Head football coach, 1940-1969


Holiday Inn of Clemson
894 Tiger Boulevard
Clemson, South Carolina 29631

This is the Clemson Wiki project's 1,239th article.


  • Phone interview with James R. Ensley, December 11, 2008.
  • Blackman, Sam, Bradley, Bob, and Kriese, Chuck, "Clemson - Where the Tigers Play", Sports Publishing, L.L.C., Champaign, Illinois, 2001, ISBN 1-58261-369-9, pages 61, 241.

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