In the spot where a garden and green space used to reside, The Smith House is bringing new life and the chance for something else to reside — if for just one weekend — as it expands its inn in Dahlonega. “Dahlonega is in dire need of more hotel space,” said Freddy Welch, owner of the restaurant and inn that’s been around since 1899. “It’s becoming a destination and our hotel’s occupancy rate has really increased in the last two years to the point where we see a real need.” The Smith House held a groundbreaking ceremony on Jan. 8, but the expansion has been in the works since 2002. That’s when Welch began talking to banks and getting permits for the $10 million expansion he had planned. In 2004, he said they started drawing up plans with an architect. “We tried to maximize what we could do with this spot and we ended up with a 65-room hotel, with a nice foyer lobby,” Welch said.