Tag Archives: Georgia Hotels & Boarding Houses

Stovall-Barnes House, 1860, Augusta

This house was built on the eve of the Civil War for Bolling Anthony Stovall (19 August 1827-24 August 1887), a prominent Piedmont merchant and engineer born in Hancock County to a well-to-do family who had come to Georgia from Virginia. Upon moving to Augusta, he began work as a cotton factor while attending Richmond Academy before entering Franklin College (University of Georgia). He studied civil engineering and worked in Alabama and Mississippi for a few years before returning to Georgia. He was also a surveyor for improvements to the Georgia State Road and worked with Major John G. Greene in the survey of the Atlanta & West Point Railroad. Because employment in engineering was sporadic at the time, he joined his father in his wholesale grocery business at Stovall & McLaughlin in Augusta. At the outset of the war, he entered the Confederate service as a sergeant with Company A, Richmond Hussars, Cobb’s Legion. He was transferred to the engineering corps as a lieutenant under General John Bankhead Magruder during the 1862 Peninsula Campaign, before finishing out the war as a captain in the subsistence department under the command of fellow Augustan General Isaac Munroe St. John. He married Mattie Wilson after the war and worked for many years as a traveling agent with the Georgia Chemical Works of Augusta.

Stovall’s son, Pleasant Alexander Stovall (7 July 1857-14 May 1935), lived in the house until his parents left Augusta for Athens, in 1873. He became a prominent journalist and eventual owner of a Savannah newspaper. His childhood friend, President Woodrow Wilson, appointed him Ambassador to Switzerland in 1913, where he served until 1919.

Congressman George T. Barnes purchased the home in 1873 and in the 20th century it was used as a residential hotel/boarding house.

Greene Street Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

Hotel & General Store, Circa 1883, Talking Rock

I’ve had trouble locating much information about the structures in Talking Rock, but read that this was built in 1883. In its early days it is said to have served as a railroad hotel and boarding house, In 1924 it was purchased by the Hobson family and became a general store, open until around 1980.

Shingle House, 1880s, Cherokee County

The iconic “Shingle House”, so named for its shingle siding, is the last remaining structure related to the Franklin-Creighton Gold Mine near Ball Ground. The mine had its origins circa 1832, when Mary G. Franklin obtained 40 acres along the Etowah River in the Gold Lottery of 1832. It became the Franklin, or Franklin-Creighton Mine circa 1883 and was said to be one of the most productive in the area, until1907, long after other area mines were long exhausted. The structure has reportedly served as a commissary, post office, and boarding house.

The community that grew up around the mine was known as Creighton, and the post office was operational from 1887-1918. The property is part of Gold & Grass Farms today.

Globe Hotel, 1827 & 1882, McDonough

The Globe Hotel originally stood a half block away on the courthouse square and was moved in 1938 to its present location. It is the oldest commercial structure in McDonough. The original section [the right side in the photos] dates to 1827 and the gabled wing [left side] was added circa 1882.

National Register of Historic Places

St. Nicolas Hotel, 1908, Albany

The St. Nicolas Hotel was the third major hotel in Albany. Designed by the Atlanta firm of Bruce & Everett to be a railroad hotel, it played host to travelers of many occupations, including carnival performers. One carnival couple, performing in the Haag Circus, gave birth to a son here in 1916. His name was Harry James and he was one of the most successful band leaders of the 1930s and 1940s. The property suffered major damage in the tornado of 10 February 1940 and was rebuilt from the remaining structure. It was known as the Lee Hotel upon re-opening.

National Register of Historic Places

Historic Pulaski Hotel Lost to Fire

Driving through Pulaski last week, I was saddened to see the old Pulaski Hotel in ruins. According to the Statesboro Herald, it was lost to fire on 27 March 2021. The hotel was one of the first structures built by the Franklin family when they established the town in 1900.

I made this photograph of the hotel in 2009.

Imperial Hotel, 1949, Thomasville

Harvey and Dorothy Lewis Thompson opened the Imperial Hotel in 1949, as the only reliable lodging option in Thomasville for African-Americans. At the height of the Jim Crow era, when the simple act of travel could be dangerous for black people, the Imperial Hotel was listed in the Negro Motorist Green-Book travel guides, made famous by the 2018 motion picture. Dorothy’s brothers, the Lewis Brothers, were skilled brick masons and built the structure from the foundation to the top. The hotel featured eight bedrooms, a restaurant and barber shop. It closed in 1969 and has been in a state of decline since being abandoned in 2001.

Local historian Jack Hadley (of the Jack Hadley Black History Museum), who purchased the hotel in 2018, has been leading an effort to restore the property for several years. It inclusion in this year’s Places in Peril by the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation has brought the attention of CEO Mark McDonald, who has committed assistance to the project and expresses great enthusiasm for its future. To donate, visit Thomasville Landmarks.

In the end the property may reflect its original role as a hotel; plans to make it an Airbnb are presently in development with Florida A&M University architecture students and other consultants.

I’m unsure if it’s related to the hotel, but this shotgun house is located on the same property.

Coleman Hotel, Circa 1900, Cobbtown

The Coleman House/Hotel is typical of late-19th and early-20th century properties found in small towns along railroad lines. Owners often lived in the hotel and rented rooms. At the height of the railroad era, such enterprises could be quite profitable. The Coleman Hotel has come full circle and once again is a bed and breakfast known as the Serenity Inn.

Mathews Glen, 1895, Fitzgerald

When I was a young teenager I first visited this house with my father, who worked on the railroad for many years with owner Harold Mathews (7 August 1923 – 16 May 2004). Harold knew how much we loved history and he eagerly gave us a tour of the house and his extensive holdings of local ephemera. He also showed us the attic, where he kept his neatly organized collection of stamps and postal history. It greatly influenced my own interest in postal history, which continues to this day.

We weren’t aware at the time that this was the oldest house in Fitzgerald, but research suggests that it is. It was built by a Mr. Dow in 1895, before the old soldiers’ colony was even incorporated as Fitzgerald. [P. H. Fitzgerald initiated the colonization effort in mid-1895 but the town wasn’t incorporated until 1896]. The house itself is a rambling Queen Anne, with a Foursquare design and a rear wing. Its most notable architectural features are the unusual corner porch entrance and widow’s walk.

Thanks to Michael Baxter, the present owner of the house, for inviting me to photograph. He has done a nice job of preserving this important house and is proud to be a guardian of its history.

The following history is abridged from Sherri Butler’s fascinating article, “Four generations of colonist’s family lived at Mathews Glen on Washington Avenue” (Fitzgerald Herald-Leader, 19 October 2016). Sherri is an exemplary newspaper columnist, and has been an enthusiastic supporter of my work since I first started documenting Vanishing Georgia in 2008. Her ‘Feature Front’ column is the most anticipated and most widely-read piece in each week’s paper and I am always grateful for the threads of local history she uncovers and shares with me and with the community at large. She has served as Chairman of the Blue and Gray Memorial Association and is also the co-author of Fitzgerald (Images of America), Arcadia Publishing, 2010. I’m still hoping Sherri will compile her articles into a book; her take on history is refreshingly modern, mixing old facts with reminisces of those who knew the subjects well.

When Ransom Mathews pulled up stakes in South Dakota and came to settle in the Union veterans’ colony in South Georgia, he had new calling cards printed. He wanted everyone to know of his service in the Civil War – the units in which he had served were listed below his name: 47th Regiment of the Massachusetts Volunteer Militia, 16th Regiment of New York Volunteers, 60th Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers and 193rd Regiment New York Volunteers (In the latter, he received the rank of first lieutenant).

Two-seater privy, built to match the house.
Mathews Glen barn.

Born in Potsdam, N.Y., in 1839, he was the 10th of 11 children of David and Lory Mathews…from age 17 until the beginning of the Civil War he lived in Massachusetts...[After the war] like so many others, he headed west...Mathews first went to St. Louis, and in 1867 he traveled Missouri, representing a fire insurance agency. He also married the former Lizzie Gowen…The next year found him in Fayette, Iowa. He stayed there until 1880, working for a brick company. Lizzie died in Iowa in 1878, but the couple had two children. Their son, Harry, was described as being in the “fruit business” in Louisiana…He joined his father in Fitzgerald in 1917. The Mathews’ daughter, Fannie May, was a graduate of the Broad Street Conservatory of Music in Philadelphia…In 1879, Ransom Mathews married Mrs. Mary J. Gillespie. From Iowa, he went to Kingsbury County, South Dakota, where he lived in a community called Nordland for three years. In 1883, he bought a hotel in the village of Arlington. He named the hotel, located a block from the Northwestern depot, Mathews House.

Mathews family at Mathews Glen, date unknown. Archival photograph courtesy Michael Baxter via Janice Mathews Sykes.

In 1899, he purchased the Washington Avenue home from a Mr. Dow, who had built it four years earlier. For Mathews, it would be both home and business, as he operated it as a boarding house…he ordered stationery imprinted with ‘Home of Ransom Mathews, Mathews Glen’. He quickly became part of the community, active in the GAR [Grand Army of the Republic] and also the short-lived Blue and Gray Association that united Confederate and Union veteransWhen the Georgia Division of the United Confederate Veterans held its Re-Union in Fitzgerald in 1915, Ransom Mathews was there at the Ben Hill County Courthouse to welcome the old Confederates on behalf of the Grand Army of the Republic…[His] second wife died in 1914. Ransom died on 22 August 1918, at the age of 80.”

Mathews Glen, early 20th century. Archival photograph courtesy Michael Baxter via Janice Mathews Sykes.

“[After growing up in Iowa and South Dakota, Ransom’s son, David Harry Mathews (4 November 1871-22 August 1952), who was a musician who formed the DeSmet Kid Orchestra in DeSmet, South Dakota…] lived in Hammond, Louisiana, for much of his life. He was 46 when he came to Georgia. A farmer, he had also been a pitcher for the New Orleans Indians and often wore his uniform when he went to watch baseball games at Blue and Gray Park...”

Harold Mathews as an infant. Archival photograph courtesy Michael Baxter via Janice Mathews Sykes.

Harry’s son, Harold Ransom Mathews, inherited the house upon his father’s death and lived there until his death in 2004. He and his wife Montine, raised their children, Janice and Ramsey, here. Montine was the former Montine Mizell, daughter of Hamp Mizell. Hamp was one of the pioneer white settlers of the Okefenokee Swamp and owned one of the swamp’s most famous fishing holes, known as Suwanee Lake. He was a contributor to one of the first histories of the Okefenokee and was a favorite subject of folklorists, including Francis Harper and Delma Presley. There is at least one photograph of Montine as a young girl in Dr. Presley’s Okefinokee Album.

Ruins of Aldine Hotel, Fitzgerald

Irwin County entrepreneur Wright Tomberlin Paulk (1873-1922) built the Aldine Hotel [pronounced al-dean] circa 1904, to capitalize on the rapid growth of the recently settled”Old Soldier’s Colony” at Fitzgerald. He named it for his daughter, who died at the age of eighteen months in 1898. In its early days it was one of the leading hotels of the city and was later modified for use as a retail space for various businesses. I recall a Fred’s Store being located here when I was a child in the late 1970s and early 1980s. As the above photograph shows, the front of the structure was sided with inappropriate concrete veneer at some point.

The original hotel was three stories; I believe this rear section was a later addition.

The structure had been abandoned and neglected for many years and in the past year or so bricks began to collapse into the adjacent alley, creating a serious liability and hazard. Sadly, this is the fate of far too many commercial structures in small towns all over Georgia.

As of October 2020, the property has been cleared.

Fitzgerald Commercial Historic District, National Register of Historic Places