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Alabama hotels and resorts of the past collection

Identifier: W-0041

Scope and Contents

This collection includes letters, receipts, pamphlets, and transcribed copies of newspaper articles pertaining to nine notable Alabama hotels, as well as the guest register of the Battle House Hotel from March 1 - September 26, 1863. Materials related to the following hotels are included: the Exchange Hotel in Montgomery, the Morris Hotel in Birmingham, the Battle House in Mobile, the DeKalb Hotel in Fort Payne, Fruithurst Inn in Fruithurst, the Alabama Inn in Livingston, Mansion House in Mobile, the Green Bottom Inn in Huntsville, and the Point Clear Hotel in Point Clear. Notable items include a collection of documents compiled by archivist Peter Brannon and signed by Alabama author Clifford Lanier.


  • 1830-1836


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Due to the nature of certain archival formats, including digital and audio-visual materials, access to certain materials may require additional advance notice.

Biographical / Historical

This collection contains materials related to nine Alabama hotels: the Exchange Hotel in Montgomery; the Morris Hotel in Birmingham; the Battle House in Mobile; the DeKalb Hotel in Fort Payne; Fruithurst Inn in Fruithurst; the Alabama Inn in Livingston; Mansion House in Mobile; the Green Bottom Inn in Huntsville; and the Point Clear Hotel in Point Clear.

Montgomery's Exchange Hotel was opened in 1847. Its original proprietor was J. J. Stewart, who later partnered with Joseph G. Field in 1850.The four-story brick hotel was located on Court Square and contained 124 rooms, as well as a billiard room, a bar, a reading room, and a parlor. The hotel remained open during the Civil War. In 1866, authors Sidney and Clifford Lanier worked at the hotel. In 1904, the original building was demolished and the New Exchange Hotel was built, opening in 1906. In September 1974, the New Exchange Hotel building was demolished.

Built by Elyton Land Company organizer Josiah Morris and completed in 1890, the Morris building at the corner of First Avenue and Nineteenth Street in Birmingham was initially the office of the Birmingham Trust & Savings Company. When the Caldwell Hotel burned in 1894, part of the building was converted to house hotel rooms. Under the management of C. H. Nabb, the Morris became one of the city's leading hotels. The building was demolished in 1958.

Founded by a group of investors including James Battle and Samuel J. Battle, Mobile's Battle House Hotel opened in November 1852. The five story brick building housed 240 rooms and included space on the ground floor for storefronts. Since its founding, the hotel has hosted a number of notable guests, including Jefferson Davis, Ulysses S. Grant, and Millard Fillmore. The hotel building has been restored and remains in operation.

Fort Payne's DeKalb Hotel was established in 1889 and was located in the city center. The three story building housed 125 rooms and featured amenities such as electricity and running water. By 1911, the hotel was converted into an apartment complex. In 1918, the building was destroyed by fire.

Built at the peak of the short-lived vineyard boom by the Fruithurst Company in Cleburne County, the Fruithurst Inn boasted eighty rooms, a billiard room, and a bowling alley. After the company's attempts to establish vineyards failed, the clubhouse was sold, moved to Borden Springs, and renamed the Borden-Wheeler Hotel. The expanded hotel became a popular excursion location until it was closed in 1933 and was destroyed by fire in 1935.

Located in Livingston, the Alabama Inn was a favorite for visitors attracted by the area's artesian wells. A brick pavillion was constructed over one such well in 1873, constructed to match the Inn's architecture.

Rebuilt once, Mobile's Mansion House Hotel was located on the corner of Royal and Conti streets. The original brick building included a second floor ballroom and a bar lit by gas lights. This building was destroyed by fire in 1839, and the hotel was rebuilt and reopened in 1841. The new hotel included a sizable dining room and hotel rooms with private sitting rooms. This building was destroyed in 1850.

Located in Huntsville, the Green Bottom Inn was built in 1815. The stone structure included seven porches, a large fireplace and was located near a horse track. In 1819, President James Monroe stayed at the hotel during an unannounced visit to Huntsville. In 1891, the Huntsville State Colored Normal and Industrial School acquired the hotel building, which became the college president's home. In 1930, the original structure burned, and was later replaced by a replica of the building.

Overlooking the Mobile Bay, the Point Clear Hotel was built in 1847. The two story hotel included two wharves for visitors to swim in the bay. During the Civil War, the hotel served as a hospital, and a portion of the hospital's property served as a Confederate cemetery. In 1869, the hotel's main building burned, while the bar and outlying buildings survived. The hotel reopened in 1871, and guests were staying at the hotel when the excursion steamer Ocean Wave exploded on August 27, 1871. After the explosion, the hotel's bar was converted into an emergency hospital. In 1875, a new hotel building was constructed on the Point Clear Hotel site. Although the two-story Grand Hotel was slightly larger than the earlier hotel, its architecture was similar to the original building. The Grand Hotel remains in operation.

Sources: Sulzby, James F. Jr. Historic Alabama Hotels and Resorts. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1960. "Exchange Hotel is Ending of an Era," Tuscaloosa News September 14, 1973, pg. 4, col. 3-4. McGehee, Tom. "Collection Highlight: The Mansion House China." Landmark Letter, Historic Mobile Preservation Society Newsletter 43, no. 2.


0.1 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Letters, receipts, and transcribed copies of newspaper articles pertaining to notable Alabama hotels, including the Exchange Hotel (Montgomery), the Morris Hotel (Birmingham), the Battle House (Mobile), the DeKalb Hotel (Fort Payne), Fruithurst Inn (Fruithurst), the Alabama Inn (Livingston), Mansion House (Mobile), the Green Bottom Inn (Huntsville), and the Point Clear Hotel (Point Clear).

Physical Location

The A. S. Williams III Americana Collection, Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library, The University of Alabama


Gift of A. S. Williams III, 2010

Related Materials

There is other material in the A. S. Williams III Americana Collection relating to historic Alabama hotels. Please contact Williams Collection staff for additional information.

Processed by

Haley Aaron and Martha Bace, 2013
Guide to the Alabama hotels and resorts of the past collection
August 2013
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the The University of Alabama Libraries Special Collections Repository

Box 870266
Tuscaloosa AL 35487-0266