Tag Archives: South Georgia Hotels & Boarding Houses

Bon Air Hotel, 1901, Bainbridge

This historic property faces Willis Park and at its core is the footprint of The Sharon House, a hotel built in the 1860s. Significant remodeling and expansion took place in 1901 and it became the Bon Air Hotel. Originally, a full-height porch ran the length of the facade, with balconies on the upper floors, but this feature was removed in the 1950s. As cities built strip malls and activity moved away from historic downtown areas, grand old hotels were seen as too expensive to maintain.The Bon Air wasn’t immune to this fate and closed in the 1960s, falling into serious disrepair. By the 1990s, communities like Bainbridge began to recognize the importance of landmarks to revitalizing their historic identities, and thankfully, the Bon Air was renovated between 1999-2001, with apartments and storefronts. It has retaken its place as the anchor of the commercial historic district.

Bainbridge Commercial Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --DECATUR COUNTY GA--, Bainbridge GA

Restoration of the Hotel Willard, Helena

Nearly three years ago, I reported that I had learned that this landmark, the most important surviving commercial structure in all of Telfair County, was being threatened with demolition. Soon thereafter, I learned that a local gentleman had stepped up and taken on its restoration. I’m glad to report that he has made a lot of progress, stripping paint off the brick and replacing windows. He has also done work on the interior, but it’s a slow process. I know there’s a long way to go, but how wonderful that someone chose to save this wonderful old hotel.



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

Omaha Springs Hotel, Circa 1900, Jefferson County

The Omaha Springs Hotel (built in the early 1900s) is among the last surviving resort hotels of the mineral springs era, a time when the purported healing properties of the state’s abundant natural springs attracted visitors from all over the country. Many locations featured hotels and cabins but most have long been demolished. In A Preliminary Report on the Mineral Springs of Georgia (Atlanta, 1913), state geologist S. W. McCallie noted: This group of springs…are situated in a dense grove at the base of a rather precipitous hill-slope…One of the largest of the springs from which a sample of water was secured for analysis flows something like 100 gallons per minute. The main improvement consists of a well-built hotel of 24 rooms. The water from these springs is said to have a considerable sale in Augusta…and is well suited as a table water.

The structure is a private residence and can only be seen from a gate. Without the longtime stewardship of the Fleming family, who owned and maintained the property for decades, this treasure would surely have not survived.



Knight’s Tourist Home, Jesup

I’m not sure when this was built, perhaps the late 1930s or early 1940s, but I believe it was built solely for use as a boarding house/tourist home. It is presently being deconstructed. Jesup once had many such “tourist homes” but by the 1960s most were replaced by modern motels. The Broadhurst Studio postcard (pictured below) likely dates to circa 1945-1950. The card notes the availability of a locked garages and boasts that it is a block away from the noise of highway traffic.

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

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