The job of curator at Allandale Mansion is one that demands personality, adaptability, and a deep respect for the history of the storied home. For the past two decades, Rod Gemayel has proven himself to be exactly the man for the job.
Allandale Mansion, referred to by some as “Kingsport’s White House,” has all the markings of a true Kingsport landmark. The mansion’s opulent decorations and old Southern charms attract thousands of visitors per year, hosting everything from weddings to regional car shows.
“There are only two full-time employees here at Allandale, including me, so we have a lot of very different things we have to take care of,” says Gemayel.
Gemayel states that each morning his work begins by reviewing the various bookings that the mansion has for that particular day. Like all historic houses, Allandale Mansion offers guided tours upon request, but for the most part, Allandale functions as a rental space for large gatherings.
“We see birthday parties, retirement parties, holiday parties and plenty of others,” says Gemayel. “Most of what keeps us busy, though, is weddings.”
On average, Allandale hosts around 125 weddings each year. Gemayel states that in recent years, the fall season has been the most popular, with 34 wedding-related events scheduled at the mansion this October alone. For Gemayel and fellow Allandale staff member Jennifer Henry, this means a great deal of planning and logistics, combined with quick thinking and hard work.
“It’s always all-hands-on-deck for us during this time of year,” says Gemayel, “We’re lucky to be able to have the support we do from the city property maintenance and building maintenance to help us keep things going.”
Gemayel has been serving in this role for over 22 years, having applied for the job after finishing a career at Eastman. He says that he feels lucky to have found himself in a position like this one.
“The best part is working with the renters. Everyone is so nice, and it’s great to be able to get them what they’re looking for,” says Gemayel, “The place started its life as a family home, so we want you to feel at home when you’re using it.”
Gemayel says that he feels energized by the fast-paced, variable nature of the job at Allandale, and that he looks forward to serving in this role for many more years to come.
“It’s definitely a fun place to be,” says Gemayel, “Working here, I get to always look forward to the next big thing coming up.”