Local History, North Carolina History, Winston-Salem

A century of hotels…Frances to Hampton…

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In the beginning
Men working
The home stretch
Photos by Fam Brownlee

The new Hampton Inn and Suites opened a couple of weeks ago at Cherry and Third. But what was there before? The earliest known building was a private residence built by Roderick Cotten of the tobacco manufacturing concern Bynum, Cotten & Jones around 1880. After Mr. Cotten’s retirement in the 1890s, the building passed briefly into the hands of Philip Hanes; then Dr. W. O. Spencer, who maintained his medical offices in the the home; then Oscar B. Eaton, who served as mayor of Winston and the first mayor of Winston-Salem.

Cotten house, left, Cherry and Third, 1880s. Digital Forsyth
A tobacco tag for Bynum & Cotten’s popular chew, Mary Lee

The Hotel Frances was established in 1907 when Frank Miller bought part of the former Hotel Phoenix and the Crawford Building next door on Fourth Street. Mrs. Rosa E. Young, manager of the Phoenix, leased the second floor of both buildings and opened the Hotel Frances there. The new hotel had 21 rooms, plus meeting and dining halls. Rooms cost $2 per night. It was an immediate success, becoming the permanent home of several prominent persons and the site of many local meetings and celebrations.

From left to right in this c 1900 postcard picture, the 1st National Bank Building, the Hanes Building, the Phoenix Hotel and the Crawford Building, the one with the triple arches. Fourth Street is in the foreground with Liberty crossing from the left. The Hotel Frances opened on the second floor of the Phoenix and Crawford buildings, beginning where the three white sections are.

In April, 1909 Estelle N. Montague purchased the old Cotten/Hanes/Spencer/Eaton house for $7,000 and leased it to Rosa Young for an expansion of her Hotel Frances business. But by the first week of July, collaboration between Ms Young, Ms Montague and her husband H. Montague, things had changed. The old house was demolished and plans were announced for a much larger modern style family hotel. That building was completed and opened as the new Hotel Frances in 1910.

Hotel Francis, Cherry and Third Streets, c 1910. Forsyth County Public Library Photograph Collection
1911 Winston-Salem City Directory

In May 1921 Rosa announced that the Hotel Frances would close by June 10. H. Montague had decided to spend $15,000 on renovations and install the Elks Home on the site. The Elks moved in on June 1, 1922, but apparently had second thoughts. In December,1924, they bought land on West First Street and began construction of a new Elks Home there.

Frances Hotel just before its demolition in 1959, still a handsome structure. The building at the right housed the Colonial Hotel…Forsyth County Public Library Photograph Collection

By the end of 1925, the Hotel Frances had reopened on the site under the management of Mrs. S.P. Richardson, except now the name was reversed to Frances Hotel. The business thrived. The hotel became a regular luncheon site for many local civic groups. The house next door on Cherry, originally a private residence, became the Colonial Hotel, which absorbed the Frances Hotel overflow and also served as a boarding house. But by the late 1950s, business was down, so some of the street level space was leased to other businesses. In 1959, the hotel closed and the old building was demolished and replaced by Park & Shop #6.

Forsyth County Public Library Photograph Collection

In 1964, the new Northwestern Bank, founded in Wilkes County, built their local headquarters there. They were acquired by First Union in 1985. After that, the building had a variety of uses, including insurance and real estate offices and the headquarters of the Piedmont Opera, until it was demolished to make way for the new Hampton Inn and Suites.

The Spencer Sanitarium

In 1912, Dr. W.O. Spencer and others, leased the Bennett Building on Liberty Street at Second and opened a hospital which they called the Spencer Sanitarium, staffed with several doctors and nurses. After a few successful years, the company suddenly announced in 1916 that it was filing for bankruptcy.

W.T. Apple bought the building at auction, and in February, 1917 announced the opening of the new forty room Union Hotel on that site. That did not last long. By August, 1918, it had become the Monticello Boarding House, then the Twin-City Hotel. After the hotel closed in 1922 it would host a long series of more or less successful businesses until it was demolished in the 1970s to make way for the present parking deck at Liberty and Second.

The Hotel Frances Neighborhood

The Hotel Frances was a part of one of the Twin City’s most attractive streetscapes. Below is a guide to the neighborhood.

Carnegie Public Library
YMCA at Fourth and Cherry, Winston-Salem High School, 1st Presbyterian
St. Paul’s Episcopal, Fourth and Cherry
The five story 1922 Realty Building can be seen across Cherry from the Nissen Building. The Twin City Club is on the right at Fourth and Marshall

Postcard images are from the Durwood Barbour Collection of North Carolina Postcards (P077), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, Wilson Library, UNC-Chapel Hill

2 thoughts on “A century of hotels…Frances to Hampton…”

  1. I was amused at the irony of the mention of the Crawford Hotel in W-S. As a “hoodie” sweatshirt of mine says, “Raised in Colorado with roots in North Carolina” (born W-S), I’m fortunate to be acquainted with Dana Crawford of Denver and even more fortunate to have her as a friend. Dana has been instrumental in the preservation of Denver’s history through her efforts in what’s now nicknamed “LoDo” (Lower Downtown Historic District) which has saved a 26 block area from developers’ wrecking balls. She was recently honored with the naming of the new hotel in Denver’s Union Station the Crawford Hotel. It was part of an approximately $1 BILLION renovation of the station and the area.

  2. My former boss, Don Hines, used to talk about growing up at the Francis Hotel. Seems his parents managed it during his childhood.

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