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
citys 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.
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.
in DeKalb Hotel
In 1901 the hotel was used to
house students of Professor Edwin R. Eldridges 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.
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.
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 original DeKalb Hotel in Fort Payne.