Landmark Mentone Springs Hotel Destroyed By Fire

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The landmark Mentone Springs Hotel at Mentone, Ala., was destroyed by fire on Saturday.

Also burned to the ground was the hotel annex, which was operated for many years as the White Elephant antique and book business.

The fire broke out about 9 p.m. and soon was out of control. A guest initially tried to put it out using a fire extinguisher.

After the annex also began burning, firefighters began an effort to prevent the roaring fire from spreading to other buildings in Mentone.

The Mentone Inn Bed and Breakfast across the highway was not damaged.  

Darlene and Jim Rotch said on the hotel's Facebook page, "We are heartsick and sad to announce that the Mentone Springs Hotel and the White Elephant are gone--devastated by fire. Thank God no one was hurt. We do not have the details of what happened but will try and keep everyone updated as we learn more."

A number of those who grew up visiting and staying at the stately frame hotel posted nostalgic comments.

The Mentone Springs Hotel was said to be the oldest hotel in Alabama.

Built in 1884 by Dr. Frank Caldwell as a 57-room hotel, it prospered for a time by attracting "summer people" to Lookout Mountain. Each of the rooms in the hotel when it was built featured hot and cold water supplied by deep wells. A wide porch spanned two sides and the front of the building on the first floor.

A hallway led from the dining room to the reading room and lobby, which featured a unique three-side fireplace.

Advertisements for the Mentone Springs Hotel claimed that it was located in one of the most healthful and attractive spots in the South.

The hotel grounds included two springs - Mineral Springs and Beauty Springs - both of which were believed to have furnished water with strengthening and curative powers. The Mineral Springs dried up following the blasting involved in construction of a new paved road between Valley Head and Mentone in 1928.

The Mentone Springs Hotel changed hands several times soon after it was built. New owners in 1914 remodeled the hotel and added the two-story annex with 24 rooms, each with a private bath.

A 44-room dormitory was added in 1920, as well as an auditorium designed to seat 600 people. It had six classrooms.

The Alabama State Baptists began using the hotel beginning in 1921 for their youth convocations and often more than 1,000 members of the Baptist Young People's Union would attend conventions at the hotel.

The hotel failed during the Depression and it was operated with little success until an auction was held on the hotel grounds July 5, 1950. Ben Hammond of Rome, Ga., bought the old hotel for use as a summer home.

Norville Hall, an organ builder and repairman, acquired the hotel in 1956 for use as a home and for storing organ parts. He had been the manager of the hotel from 1945 until 1950.

The annex was sold to H.L. Murphy of Summerville and it was remodeled and operated as the Sunset Hotel for several years.

 


TBI Top 10 Most Wanted Fugitive Arrested In Chattanooga

A man from Knoxville who was added to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s Top 10 Most Wanted list on May 19, was arrested  Tuesday  afternoon in Chattanooga. Marquez Travell Billingsley, 18, was taken into custody by agents with the TBI, U.S. Marshals and officers with the Chattanooga Police Department. The apprehension was made during a traffic stop ... (click for more)

Bradley County Sheriff's Office Releases Results Of Memorial Day Weekend Saturation

The Bradley County Sheriff’s Office conducted a special saturation during the Memorial Day weekend to combat impaired and reckless driving. Additional patrols were implemented in order to keep citizens safe on the roads during one the busiest weekends of the year. The saturation started on Friday at 12 a.m. and ended Tuesday, at 12 a.m. Sheriff Eric Watson said, " The ... (click for more)

Calling Out Bad Behavior In St. Elmo - And Response

I have lived in the St. Elmo community of Chattanooga for practicially all 52 years of my life. My grandmother moved to St. Elmo in 1919. My Dad was literally born in a home in St. Elmo and lived his entire 72 years in this community and my Mom has lived here 60 years of her life. I am very disappointed in what my neighborhood has become. I like people. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Amputee Team Wins Relay

As a news junkie there isn’t a lot that gets past me in my morning reading, yet I had no idea there was a relay race in Chattanooga two weekends ago. Maybe that’s why 1,500 people ran away and never came back – the finish line was in Nashville. How the Ragnar Relays work is pretty simple. The organizers pick two cities that are about 200 miles apart and then 12-to-14 runners ... (click for more)

Seth Ruhling Wins Chattanooga Chase 8K And One Mile

It has been six years since Seth Ruhling ran the Chattanooga Chase and maybe he had forgotten just how tough that 8K course really is, but that’s didn’t seem to matter Monday morning as he celebrated Memorial Day with victory in the Chattanooga Track Club’s oldest race. Ruhling graduated from Collegedale Academy in 2013 and is now a 21-year-old student at Southern Adventist ... (click for more)

Tennessee-Georgia All-Star Football Classic Set For Saturday at CCS

The 13th Annual Tennessee-Georgia All-Star Football Classic, presented by Great Clips, is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday June 4 at Chattanooga Christian School in Chattanooga. Tennessee defeated Georgia 38-14 last June at McCallie School in Chattanooga. It was Tennessee's fourth consecutive victory in the series that dates back to the first game held at Ridgeland High in ... (click for more)