The lot on which the Norman Hotel was built originally was occupied by the Central Hotel, a two-story wooden structure built in the 1890s. Soon after the turn of the century, the hotel was renamed the Southern Hotel.
Jeremiah B. Norman was a local businessman who had grown wealthy from timber and naval stores in the 1890s. He then moved to Moultrie from nearby Norman Park and began buying property and buildings in downtown Moultrie. In early 1908, Norman bought the Southern Hotel. Later that year, a fire broke out in the vicinity of the kitchen, and the entire hotel burned down. Norman then built a new three-story red-brick hotel, which he named the Norman Hotel. The new hotel was the second largest in Moultrie and featured steam heat and electric lights.
In terms of architectural style, the Norman Hotel was of simple design with little detailing except for a cornice at the top, small pediments over the two doors, and three ventilation dormers that project from the hotel’s sloping roof.
In 1915, Moultrie’s postmaster rented a section of the Norman Hotel’s first floor for use as a post office. The hotel continued to house Moultrie’s post office until a new Federal Building was completed in 1919. After the post office moved out, the front corner area of the hotel was remodeled to serve as a restaurant.
The Norman Hotel apparently did well. For one thing, it was the closest hotel to the passenger train depot, located five blocks away. At the time, most businessmen and salesmen traveled by rail, and by 1920 Moultrie was served by 14 passenger trains daily. So, the Norman Hotel’s proximity to the train depot was important. Evidence of hotels’ success can be seen that by 1920, it had a sample room on the first floor for traveling salesmen to display their wares. Also, a smaller building adjacent to the hotel that housed a barbershop now served as a hotel annex.
In the 1950s and ‘60s, the Norman Hotel suffered the fate of most small town hotels across America. The declining use of passenger trains and the rising popularity of motels forced the Norman Hotel to close in the 1960s. Since then, the ground floor of the building has been used for various purposes, including a coffee shop, boutique, and other stores. The original pediments above the doors no longer remain. Also, the brick exterior outside the first floor has been covered with light-colored masonry facing. Currently, the rooms on the second and third floor are vacant.
In 1994, the downtown Moultrie commercial historic district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The old Norman Hotel building was considered a contributing building in the historic district.
Many thanks to Joanna Cook for pointing me in the right direction!
Moultrie Commercial Historic District, National Register of Historic Places