Tag Archives: South Georgia Hotels & Boarding Houses

Grice Inn, 1906, Wrightsville

This tavern is illustrated in John Linley’s The Architecture of Middle Georgia: The Oconee Area and though I’ve traveled through Wrightsville often in the past decade, I didn’t know it was still standing until recently. Linley didn’t have much information on the structure, but Donald Smith writes:

The Grice Inn, the home of the Johnson County Historical Society since its organization in 1977 is one of Wrightsville’s most historic structures. The two-story brick and wood frame structure located on east Elm street was built in the spring of 1906 by John Robert Grice. Mr. Grice, born in 1857 was a carpenter, brick mason, furniture maker, architect and man of God. He first married Lucinda Walker and owned a farm on Cedar Creek near Donovan. He had 3 sons Milo, Cleo and Norma Lee. Lucinda died abt 1895 and John then married Rebecca Hartley. In 1900 he bought property from the deacons of Brown Memorial Baptist Church. The timber used to build this house was cut from his farm on Cedar Creek and laid to cure for a year. Where John came up with the design for the house is unknown. There was nothing else like it around. This pattern of gabled ends rising above a larger 4 sided slope atop a rectangular main section along with wide galleries around recessed exterior walls and a first floor of brick top with a second story of wood is thought to be a Gulf Coast style of the 18th century. This style originated by the French and Spanish settlers in Louisiana, was designed to keep the house cool. Dirt was dug out of the hillside by hand at this place known to residents of Wrightsville as the “knob”. Grice and his sons built the house themselves. He also had an adjoining park as a resort for young folks. The house was built for a residence but the Grice’s, who already had a reputation for good food, turned it into a boarding house in 1907 for students of the Nannie Lou Warthen Institue, which was going strong at the time. Quickly John became known as Daddy Grice. In 1907 he tiled the sidewalk in front of the house, probably the first such sidewalk in the city. The house is on the National Register and shares this distinction only with the court house.

National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --JOHNSON COUNTY GA--, Wrightsville GA

Smith-Nelson Hotel, 1908, Reidsville

Zachary (1850-1930) and Mary Jane Nelson Smith (1857-1924) moved from North Carolina to the Shiloh community outside Reidsville in 1893 They first operated a hotel on this location in 1905, but it was lost to fire soon thereafter. They rebuilt the present structure on the same site in 1908. Their in-laws, the Nelson family, moved to Reidsville in 1913 and assumed management of the hotel. It’s known simply as the Nelson Hotel today and most recently served as a bed and breakfast inn. It’s presently for sale.

National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --TATTNALL COUNTY GA--, Reidsville GA

Alexander Hotel, 1892, Reidsville

At his wife’s suggestion, Dr. Orlando L. Alexander (1852-1920) built this hotel, where the couple kept a residence, as well. Dr. Alexander was a local physician who received his medical schooling at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He served on a statewide medical conference in 1905. The hotel was built by D. J. Nobles, a master carpenter from Hagan, Georgia, who was responsible for as many as 25 structures in the general area; it was the first location in Tattnall County to have electricity and the first to have telephone service.

National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --TATTNALL COUNTY GA--, Reidsville GA

Helena’s Hotel Willard Will Soon Be Demolished

I recently updated my original post about the Hotel Willard, noting that it appeared work was being done on the property. When I shared this on social media, it was confirmed that it’s being prepared for demolition. I’m not using this space to criticize the decision but rather to share some last photographs of this landmark.

It amazes me that communities can’t see the value in such properties, but owners are often reluctant to pour money into them and as a result they deteriorate over time to the point that repair is not feasible. We say we love our heritage but we have a really bad track record of saving it.

I understand that many of the architectural features of the hotel are being salvaged. I hope this cast iron door frame is among them.

Unfortunately, the most important features, such as the brickwork around the entrance and the fanlights will be lost forever.

UPDATE: On 29 December 2017, we got the best possible news about the future of the hotel. Michelle Lowery writes that the owners have now decided to renovate it.

 

 

 

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Filed under --TELFAIR COUNTY GA--, Helena GA

Toomer Medical Office & Boarding House, Fitzgerald

I believe the lower floor of this landmark was once the office of Fitzgerald’s first black physician, Dr. Edward Toomer. The structure has been historically known as a boarding house, primarily for black railroad men. Though other businesses have been located here, its connection to Dr. Toomer is certainly the most significant aspect of its history. Sadly, it was demolished in the spring of 2017.

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Filed under --BEN HILL COUNTY GA--, Fitzgerald GA

Queen Anne House, Jesup

According to neighbors this once served as boarding house, though it has primarily been used as a private residence.

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Filed under --WAYNE COUNTY GA--, Jesup GA

Fred Roberts Hotel, 1926, Dublin

Though Dublin’s economy was hit hard by the boll weevil and numerous bank closures in the 1920s (as was the whole country), the Chamber of Commerce sponsored the construction of this hotel in an attempt at recovery. It was known as one of the finest hotels in the region until its closure in the 1950s; by the 1980s its upper floors were abandoned and its future didn’t look good. In 2011 with the assistance of Dublin’s Downtown Development Authority, the Fred Roberts became the first mixed-used development in the city, with office, retail and residential facilities.

Dublin Commercial Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --LAURENS COUNTY GA--, Dublin GA