Letter: Grants should benefit all, not hotel projects

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Regarding the city of Elizabeth City’s proposal for a grant request to restore the Southern Hotel, I submit the following. According to page 247 of the late Thomas R. Butcho’s book, “On the Shores of the Pasquotank,” the hotel was last rebuilt in 1872. Underneath the brick façade, which was added circa 1902, I believe you will find a wooden structure.

How could this building be brought up to current fire and safety codes, provided the amenities that travelers expect and make a profit? What benefit would it provide to the 55.8 percent of low- and moderate-income citizens of Elizabeth City?

Grant funds should be used for the greater good of all by raising teachers’ salaries, maintaining our public schools and providing children’s caregivers with coaching in effective parenting skills.

 

EMILY J. WHITE

Elizabeth City

Comments

fORMER OWNER ADDS

I bought the SoHo back in 2005 and sold it several years later. As noted, it was a brick building with a grey stucco coating etched to look like stone.

In 1925 Aydlett added a second shell of brick on the East and South sides, installed the elevator (which still works), upgraded the heating system, added a sprinkler system and built the extension from back of hotel around to the old Laundry room (formerly Bd of Elec location). This extension housed a gas station and garage, and several businesses,including a wedding chapel, barber and a confectionary shop.

The current building was built in 1872, opened formally on Feb 20th, 1873 and still has the original rope operated freight elevator.

With regard to your concern about grant funds. The funds being sought are only for redevelopment projects and could not be used for any other purposes as you suggest. Whether the developer will make money is totally within their control. Rest assured that they have run the numbers and know if they have a good chance of getting their money back or not. Without this grant it would be more difficult.

With the grant the odds are better and we will add a welcome economic engine to the City and downtown. It will attract tourists, generate additional City and County property taxes as well as sales and room taxes, provide additional jobs, anchor the West end of the downtown and support additional growth.

That will go a long way to help our low and moderate income citizens.

If you have a better and more productive use for the building please step forward and develop it your way.

Former owner adds cont'd

tstimatz, Edwin Aydlett (1857-1930) added the current brick facade in 1925 on the WEST and SOUTH sides of the building (N. Road and E. Main sides) the North and East sides still shows the 1872 facade you can see it from E. Colonial Ave or from the second floor of the library . The wedding or marriage chapel and barber was in another building (106 E. Main) and a confectionery shop in another building (108 E. Main). There was a barber shop in the Southern Building located at 106 N. Road and Whaley's Confectionery was located at 110 N. Road. And where the Treasure Hunter is located (112 N. Road) is the former garage you can still see the former driveway entryways on N. Road St. Southern Building 100, 102, 104 E. Main St. and 104, 106, 108, 110 N. Road St.

Thanks for the correction.

I remember Walter Comstalk saying he had worked at Whaley's before he opened Stalks. There was a large shelf unit in Stalks that came from either Whaley's or the place on Main Street. It sat up on the counter toward the back of Stalks.

If you go in the store at 112 N road and go to the corner nearest Road and Colonial you can see where the gas pump island used to be. Lady told me story that her dad ran the gas station back in the 30s. Her dad rented a car to someone and forgot to take her and her baby basket out of the car. Obviously the renter brought her back.

Fred Fearing told me story that he and a buddy climbed up the fire escape on the north side to watch them remove the bodies of lady from VA beach and her boyfriend, who were shot by her husband. I think this was in 1923.

The enclosed space in the garage with two empty window openings and no door from the garage was the coal bin. Staff would come down the narrow alley between the kitchen and the west wing to get coal for the boiler.

Neat building. Great history.

Southern Hotel

Ms. White, I have a copy of "On the Shores of the Pasquotank" and you might want to reread page 247 again and it says the building was rebuilt ca. 1872 and it was known 'Albemarle House'. It was PURCHASED in 1902 by Edwin F. Aydlett (1857-1930) it was under his ownership that the building was renovated and the present brick facade was constructed in 1925. And on the E. Colonial Avenue side if you look up you can see the walls that date from 1872. Also the one story section on the corner of N. Road and E. Colonial is the former garage of the Southern Hotel also dates from 1925. If go on the E. Main St. side go to 104 E. Main it was the Hotel's dining room and the ballroom was on the second floor until World War II when the ballroom was divided into rooms. It had 54 rooms when it was a residential hotel in the 1970's and 1980's. The site was a hotel since 1829. National Hotel 1829-1833, Mansion House 1833-1852, Leigh House 1852-1862*, Albemarle House 1872-1927, Known as the Southern Hotel since 1927. *Leigh house was burned in 1862 during the Civil War at the same time as the Battle of Elizabeth City Feb. 10, 1862 along with the Courthouse.

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