Winston-Salem is not a city that turns people away. So naturally, Sally was welcomed with open arms — followed by a trip to the vet.
“She showed up on our doorstep in September of 2013; very skinny and in bad shape,” says Rebecca Woodcock, director of marketing at The Historic Brookstown Inn. “You could tell she was going through a hard time but she was still a very friendly cat.”
Since that day, Sally has become the resident pet at the Brookstown Inn. She likes meeting new people and going on adventures. And an adventure is exactly what landed her in Winston-Salem in the first place.
According to her original family out in Washington state — which the vet’s discovered via microchip — Sally probably thumbed it onto a tractor trailer.
“[Her family] had never been to North Carolina and had never heard of Winston-Salem,” Woodcock says. “She probably wandered onto a truck, made the cross-country trip to Winston-Salem, and ended up at our doorstep.”
Since 2013, Sally has made quite the life for herself here in the Twin City, so much so that she’s become a fan favorite far beyond the grounds of the Brookstown Inn. In fact, she’s become a regular at quite a few places in Winston-Salem, and frequently adventures to other establishments in the immediate area.
“It’s wonderful to have her stop by or see her basking in the courtyard,” says Marcheta Keefer, director of marketing and communications at Visit Winston-Salem. “It’s actually a nice break to go out and visit her to chat.”
The Visit Winston-Salem office shares the courtyard with Brookstown Inn, so it’s not uncommon for Sally to visit Keefer if her office door is open, she says.
Across the street at Twin City Hive, Sally expects some milk every time she visits, says Terry Miller. Lucky for Sally, the coffee shop tends to have that on hand.
“She’ll wander off but everyone really knows her in our neighborhood,”
However, she has been known to disappear from time to time for days on end, embarking on travel escapades that are further away, although generally within Forsyth County.
Allison Watts, director of sales at the Brookstown Inn, recalls one particular Sally adventure that left her missing for nearly two months. She was eventually found — but not after falling victim to identity theft.
“A lady who lives south of us lost her cat, which looked just like Sally. Sally came roaming around at that time so she [mistook] Sally for her cat,” says Watts. “She took her in and then a couple of weeks later, her [own] cat showed back up.”
While the woman originally thought Sally was a stray, she would later learn that Sally was missing from Brookstown Inn, thanks to fliers handed out by hotel staff.
“Sally just walked [back] in like, ‘Hey,’” Watt says with a laugh. “She’s a diva. The lady lived close enough that she just wandered over.”
It wasn’t Sally’s last adventure, although now she usually returns on her own.
The exception, not the rule
Brookstown Inn is technically a pet free hotel, but there are exceptions to every rule. Sally is one of those exceptions.
Because of this, the staff at the Brookstown Inn has made a point to introduce Sally to potential guests by way of website and social media. And she’s quite the social media star, warming the hearts of visitors from all over the world. In fact, some guests come specifically to see her.
“There are definitely people who come to see Sally; she’s known and loved,” Woodcock says. “The first thing they’ll say when they come to the desk is, ‘Where’s Sally?’”
To err on the side of caution with those who suffer from cat allergies, Sally is not allowed in guest rooms; Woodcock or Watts will keep her in their shared office if a guest in the building has an allergy. Although, it can be pretty hard to police Sally, and she’s frequently ousted by tagged Facebook posts.
“I’ve definitely seen it tagged on our Facebook when people are taking photos of Sally on their beds,” Woodcock says. “It’s pretty cute and hard to be mad at.”
The Historic Brookstown Inn has 70 guest rooms spread out over two buildings. Originally a cotton mill, it was converted into a hotel in 1984 thanks to a group of preservationists. Today, the Brookstown Inn sees a variety of transient and leisure-type tourists, as well as corporate employees who are often repeat guests.
Sally’s presence is clearly a bright spot for everyone.
“It’s always very therapeutic for people who are traveling and away from home a lot. A lot of people see her and say, ‘Oh, she looks just like my cat at home,’” Woodcock says. “I think it’s nice for people who spend a lot of time on the road to see her and it makes them feel like they’re at home and not missing their pets.”
The Brookstown Inn also serves as a wedding venue — and Sally’s been known to crash a few of those. Her Instagram page chronicles her adventures as she sits on the peripherals of wedding ceremonies or attempts to swat at a passing dress train. She runs the show, and she knows it.
“She’s very gentle, and that fits in well with what’s going on around her. She’s pretty relaxed with the vibe,” Woodcock says. “You can tell [she] really brightens people’s days.”
To stay current with Sally’s adventures, follow her on Instagram at @sallycat27101 or on Facebook at Miss Sally. Visit her bio page with The Historic Brookstown Inn by going to brookstowninn.com/explore/meet-sally-cat.