Hotel Bella Grace opened its doors August 27th, 2018.
“For the family to do that, to forgive him publicly, is amazing,” said Don Semmler. “It’s a very Christlike act.”
A little more than three years ago, Semmler, a former Marriott executive and proud owner of Charleston’s newest boutique hotel, learned of the mass shooting that claimed nine lives at Mother Emanuel AME Church.
“I was a mess,” he recalled.
Later, when Semmler began work on converting a historic home in the shadow of Mother Emanuel into a hotel, he felt compelled to pay tribute to the families of the victims, their incredible act of forgiveness, and their overwhelming grace.
It’s a word President Obama used 35 times in his eulogy for the victims.
Steps away from the historic church and the stunning memorial to the nine innocent lives lost there, Semmler’s hotel would be Bella Grace (beautiful grace). It had to be.
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Hotel Bella Grace, which opened its doors just this week, is a 50-room luxury hotel that features the impeccably-restored 1830 Delany House as its centerpiece. The result is a one-of-a-kind “combination experience of historic and brand new in all the right places,” Semmler noted.
And of course, there’s Mother Emanuel’s steeple, reflected in the shiny glass of the new construction. Rev. Eric Manning, the church’s current pastor, was present for the ribbon cutting.
“It’s just been wonderful,” Semmler said of the whole experience. “We’ve been blessed every time we turn around.”