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History of DeKalb County Alabama -  The DeKalb Hotel


The DeKalb Hotel was one of the first important buildings built by the Fort Payne Coal and Iron Company during the boom. Constructed at a cost of approximately $50,000, it was sold to the DeKalb Hotel Company for $100,000. This company boasted that the establishment was among "the best hotels in the Union", and it was certainly an impressive and well equipped one. Designed especially for the comfort and pleasure of northern guests, it was an important center of activity during the period when New England investors made frequent trips to check on the city’s progress. The three-story structure contained 125 rooms, had electricity and running water, but no elevators or central heating system. Each room had wall-to-wall carpeting and a fireplace. Walkways intersected the landscaped grounds, which were graced by two water fountains, which had been cast in France. These identical fountains were eight feet in diameter and ten feet high, with 15" deep bowls. Designs of frogs, snails, lizards, shells and calla lilies were molded at the base.

DeKalb Company Formed

After court action was brought against the Fort Payne Coal and Iron Company, following the collapse of the boom. N.W. Trimble, who held the title of Master of the Court in Fort Payne, sold the company assets to E.N. Cullom of Birmingham in 1894. Cullom and his business associates then sold the assets to the DeKalb Company, of which Cullom was to serve as the first president.

Cullon proceeded, to the dismay of Fort Payne citizens, to dispose of all that he could, selling the machinery and equipment from the two-story laundry building at the rear of the hotel, as well as the hotel barber shop equipment, some of the furniture, and all of the Botsai carpet in the building.

Students Housed in DeKalb Hotel

In 1901 the hotel was used to house students of Professor Edwin R. Eldridge’s normal l. The professor, a former president of Troy State Normal School, opened a school, called Tri-State Normal, in Fort Payne in 1900. The school burned during the second year and the students were moved into one wing of the DeKalb Hotel. Taking their meals in a large private dining room and attending classes in the Opera House.

Fort Payne Company

In February, 1903, the DeKalb Company was sold to William Schall, Jr., who sold his holding the following January to the Fort Payne Company, of which A.W. Smith became the first president. In 1911 the company converted the hotel into an apartment and boarding houses, with a few rooms reserved for the use of overnight guests. Walter B. Raymond bought the Fort Payne Company in 1916.

Fountains Removed at site of DeKalb Hotel

After the DeKalb Hotel burned in 1918, the block on which it had been located was sold to C.A. es of Fort Payne, the two unusual water fountains were removed, and for a number of years stood on the grounds of the W.B. Davis Mill Club House. Later, one was given to Berry College in Rome and the other was added to the beautiful flower garden behind the late Mr. and Mrs. C.A. Wolfes’ home on Alabama Avenue in Fort Payne.


The DeKalb Hotel, built in 1889, had 125 rooms, each with water and electricity, carpeting and fireplaces.

The original DeKalb Hotel in Fort Payne.


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