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.

 


Additional County Schools Shifting To Remote Learning Due To High COVID Numbers

Hamilton County Reports 6 Previous Deaths From COVID And 745 New Cases

Georgia Reports 113 More Coronavirus Deaths And 16,707 New Cases


Additional county schools are shifting to remote learning due to high COVID numbers. Officials said on Thursday that 1,145 students and 300 staff had active COVID cases. School officials ... (click for more)

The Hamilton County Health Department on Thursday reported 745 new positive COVID-19 cases, up from 600 on Wednesday. The total number of cases in the county now stands at 81,825. There were ... (click for more)

Georgia state health officials reported on Thursday there have been 113 additional deaths due to the coronavirus. The current total is 26,967. There are 16,707 new cases reported on Thursday, ... (click for more)



Breaking News

Additional County Schools Shifting To Remote Learning Due To High COVID Numbers

Additional county schools are shifting to remote learning due to high COVID numbers. Officials said on Thursday that 1,145 students and 300 staff had active COVID cases. School officials said, "The health and well-being of all Hamilton County students and staff has and will always be our highest priority. We are monitoring the current wave of COVID-19 spreading across ... (click for more)

Hamilton County Reports 6 Previous Deaths From COVID And 745 New Cases

The Hamilton County Health Department on Thursday reported 745 new positive COVID-19 cases, up from 600 on Wednesday. The total number of cases in the county now stands at 81,825. There were six more deaths from the virus in Hamilton County reported on Thursday, for a total of 952. “Of the six deaths reported today by the Health Department, all are deaths added as part of ... (click for more)

Opinion

My Family Is Afraid And So Am I, A Tale Of American Healthcare

My father fears what I’m about to say will make me unable to find a job in the future. He may be right. My whole family worries about my health, as do I, and we have good reason to do so. I feel now more than ever that I must speak up regardless of consequence or retribution because to remain silent about this truly and uniquely American experience would be wrong. I did all the ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Works

I was driving south on 153 back to East Brainerd and looking out at the mountains in the distance and the lake so calm now and thought to myself, Chattanooga is a good place to be and a good place to be in constant awe of the beauty that surrounds us. I am not native to Chattanooga, nor the south, but more and more I love it. There is another point that needs to be shared and ... (click for more)

Sports

UTC Women Rally Past Western Carolina, 55-48

Chattanooga battled back from a nine-point halftime deficit for its third straight win, beating Western Carolina 55-48 at The McKenzie Arena Thursday night in Southern Conference women’s basketball action. The win was the 900 th in program history for the Mocs, 39 th best in NCAA Division I history. The Mocs improve to 5-14 overall and 3-1 in SoCon play while WCU falls to ... (click for more)

Dan Fleser: Former Hamilton Heights Star Uros Plavsic Makes Statement In Vandy Game

Tennessee’s Uros Plavsic did a lot to stand out on Tuesday night against Vanderbilt, much more than simply being a 7-footer. In his third start of the season, the Vols junior set season highs for points (13) and minutes played (20:36). His rebound basket with 55 seconds left broke a tie and ignited an eight-point finishing kick for the 68-60 victory. Plavsic didn’t distinguish ... (click for more)