by Katie Teems
The wind howled and carried gusts of snow while I walked into the Billy Motel. Scruffy the "slightly drunk bellhop" snored on the rug, and I walked past him and took a seat by the bright orange fireplace. I warmed myself while Joy made me a cup of coffee, and we started to chat about her life and her businesses. Joy is the owner of the Cooper House Bed and Cocktail on Front Street as well as the Billy Motel.
Joy bought the Cooper House seven years ago after going to a show at the Purple Fiddle with a friend. She grew up around Morgantown and lived in Philadelphia as an artist working in historic preservation and restoration. She joked that buying the Cooper House in Thomas was a "move towards semi-retirement," but Joy, now the owner of two businesses, doesn't plan on retiring any time soon.
Joy's eye for detail is obvious in her design of the Billy Motel and Cooper House where she remodeled the interiors and hand-picked and restored the furniture, including the Billy's famous orange fireplace which came from the old Sportsman on Front Street.
Since opening the Cooper House, Joy has become a kind of ambassador to Thomas and the surrounding areas. She's hosted a number of guests, including an NPR celebrity. She's heard plenty of guests say "I could live here." In fact, three of her guests have gone on to purchase homes in the area.
As a business owner and New Historic Thomas member, Joy has witnessed and taken part in Thomas' incredible growth in the past seven years. She mentioned her excitement about the recent opening of Front Street Grocers, which is providing fresh and affordable food to Thomas and is helping to remedy Thomas' "food desert situation."
Joy is also looking forward to Thomas' revitalization of its historic buildings and wants to see more additions of fun details in Thomas like decorative lights lining the river walk portion of the rail trail. It may not be the biggest idea, she mentioned, but I think that it's the details of a city that make it memorable. Thomas certainly has a distinctive character, and it wouldn't be the same without her.