The early 1890s found Edgefield as one of the most progressive towns in South Carolina. The public square was fresh and modern with new brick buildings that were constructed after the fires of 1881 and 1884. Business boomed in the town with merchants of all kinds selling their wares to eager shoppers. Sales-day, the first Monday of every month, found Edgefield particularly busy—crowded with horses and wagons filled with merchandise of every description. The crown jewel of the square was the courthouse that towered over the county seat as a stoic and dignified guardian.
Then, on January 22, 1892, another fire broke out in the village. This one burned the entire south side and half of the west side of the public square, sections of town that had not been destroyed in the previous fires. The old Ryan Hotel, built in 1812, was completely gone. The only remainders of it were six scorched chimneys that loomed up out of the ashes and rubble. The Anderson House Hotel was also a victim of the flames. Work began immediately to scrape away the ruins and rebuild better, grander buildings.
However, Edgefield was left for a number of years without a hotel on the public square. This fact must have weighed on the minds of many of Edgefield’s citizens, especially the leaders in the community. Almost thirty years later, a notice appeared in The Edgefield Advertiser dated 6 August 1919. It stated that the “books of subscription to the capital stock of the Dixie Highway Hotel Company, will be opened at the office of Sheppard Brothers, and at the office of the Clerk of Court at Edgefield, S. C., on Friday the 8th of August, 1919.” It was signed by J. C. Sheppard, Chairman of the Board of Corporators. Then, on 27 August 1919, another article appeared in the paper concerning the Dixie Highway Hotel. It was titled “Hotel of Thirty Rooms” and appears below:
- The directors of the Dixie Highway hotel held a meeting Saturday morning to confer with Mr. G. E. Lafaye, the architect, who came over from Columbia. Lafaye brought with him a sketch of a three-story building, with three store rooms and lobby on the first floor, which met with the approval of the members of the board. The lobby will be in the corner and the stores between the lobby and Stewart and Kernaghan’s store. Mr. Lafaye has roughly estimated that the building when completed will cost around $70,000. Several applications have already been made for the stores. Mr. Lafaye will draw plans and specifications and receive bids for the construction, which will require about three or four weeks.
- A committee was appointed to collect twenty per cent of the stock that has been subscribed in order that a charter can be obtained at once. No contracts can be made until the charter has been granted by the secretary of state. The members of the board were instructed to solicit additional stock as it will be necessary to have at least $50,000 subscribed before anything definite can be undertaken. With three stores, or two stores and a bank rented on the first floor as a source of income to the stockholders in addition to the rental of the hotel, a dividend should be declared each year on the stock, making the enterprise desirable from the standpoint of an investment as well as providing suitable hotel facilities for Edgefield.
On 1 October 1919, a brief notice was published in The Edgefield Advertiser that proudly stated that “the stockholders of the Dixie Highway Hotel have paid in 20 per cent of the stock and a charter will be applied for in a short time. People are eager to see actual work begin. Edgefield’s need for a large, modern hotel grows greater with each passing day.”
This was followed by another short article (dated 15 October 1919), titled “Plans For Hotel Approved,” which revealed that “the architect submitted plans of the Dixie Highway Hotel to the directors at a meeting held Saturday and they were accepted after a few minor changes were made. The architect was instructed to advertise for bids for the building of the hotel, all bids to be in the hands of the president of the hotel company, J. C. Sheppard, on or before November 10. It is probable that the contract will be let at that time.”
With momentum escalating for this grand project, the editor of The Edgefield Advertiser, on 12 November 1919, cried out to the community in two short but poignant sentences: “Shall Edgefield be known far and near as a town without a hotel, any hotel at all? Unless the people rally to the support of the Dixie Highway Hotel movement, such will probably be the case.”
The question about whether or not Edgefield would have a hotel was answered in an article in the newspaper dated 26 November 1919. It was titled “Contract Let for New Hotel” and appears below:
- Edgefield’s greatest need, a modern hotel of adequate size, is soon to be supplied. The directors of the Dixie Highway Hotel Company let the contract for the erection of a thirty-room, three-story hotel to the Schroder-Lewis Company of Augusta, Monday. The building will be completed by August 1 next and the company has a guarantee that it will not cost more than $69,800. If it is built for less than that sum, the company will get the benefit of the decreased cost. The building will have three modern stores, lobby, office, sample rooms, barber shop, pool room, dining room, etc., on the ground floor and the thirty bedrooms will be provided for in the two stories above. The contractors will begin work at once and press it vigorously until the building is completed, which will probably be early next summer. The letting of the contract for this hotel is the most progressive step, the greatest forward stride, that Edgefield has taken in many, very many, years, and the erection of a commodious modern hotel will mean more to the material development of Edgefield than the average citizen realizes.—The Edgefield Advertiser, 26 November 1919.
On 3 March 1920, The Edgefield Advertiser reported that “the walls of the Dixie Highway Hotel are rapidly going up. If the contractors can get several weeks of favorable weather, the brick work would soon to completed. There has been but very little weather favorable for building since Christmas.” Then, on 14 April 1920, the editor of The Advertiser proudly remarked that “it gives one a patriotic thrill to see “Old Glory” flying from the roast-head of the Dixie Highway Hotel, which is already one of Edgefield’s show places.”
- As the construction of the Dixie Highway Hotel neared completion, thoughts became focused on finding the right manager for the hotel. That person was apparently Mr. Foy A. Vause for The Edgefield Advertiser reported on 30 June 1920 that:
The many friends of Mr. and Mrs. Foy A. Vause will be sorry to learn that they have decided to leave the Belton Hotel and move to Edgefield, where Mr. Vause has leased the new and modern Dixie Highway Hotel, the change to take effect the first of September.
- The Dixie Highway Hotel has 30 rooms with steam heat, hot and cold running water throughout, electric elevator and will be elaborately furnished—the nicest appointed and most modern small hotel in the state.
- and Mrs. Vause have been in Belton nearly two years, during which time they have been in charge of Geer hotel. Under their management the hotel enjoyed excellent patronage—each of them at all times giving their undivided attention to the guests, more if possible, for their money than could have been expected of them during the high cost of buying.
Mr. Vause was editor and manager of the Belton Journal for six months during his residence here, and at all times worked for the best interests of the town. He advocated Belton being pushed forward and at no time did he cease hammering for a live, chamber of commerce for the town. He is not only a good hotel man, but he is a clean and up-to-date newspaper man and would make good on a modern daily paper.
Mr. and Mrs. Vause will leave Belton on August 1, and will spend two weeks of vacation among relatives in North Carolina before going to Edgefield on September 1.—Belton Journal.
The stores in the bottom level of the hotel began to be filled with various types of businesses. One was the Economy Store that was promoted in the newspaper, on 17 November 1920, as “the new dry goods, ladies-ready-to wear and shoe store under the Dixie Highway Hotel.” The Advertiser editor went on to say that the Economy Store “is already proving very popular. It is daily adding many new patrons to its steadily growing list of friends. Read what the Economy Store says to the Edgefield public in a page advertisement in this issue about giving great bargains in order to realize the cash for the large stock of merchandise it bought early in the summer. This popular store is making attractive prices.”
On 1 December 1920, another business in the hotel was advertised in the newspaper—The Dixie Highway Drug Store. It was located “next to the hotel lobby [and] will be ready to serve the public in a few days. Beautiful shelving has been installed and one of the most modern, as well as one of the prettiest, soda fountains in this part of the country has been installed and is already charged for business. In a few days the deck will be cleared for action.”
It was also announced in The Edgefield Advertiser on 1 December 1920 that “the new hotel will throw wide its doors in a few days, possibly Sunday. The finishing touches are being put on and everything is spick and span.” However, on 8 December 1920, another proclamation was made that “after much delay, for which nobody is to be censured, the new hotel will be ready to open formally for business by the end of the week. Dinner Sunday will be the first meal served.”
On 8 December 1920, it was also reported that “the Dixie Highway Pharmacy opened for business last Saturday. It is a very attractive place with its modern sanitary soda fountain and beautiful fixtures and is already proving to be popular. Major Collett is assisted by Mr. Walter Cantelou.” Additionally, under the heading “Turkey Dinners,” another article (below) was published on 8 December 1920:
Foy A. Vause, the capable manager of the Dixie Highway Hotel, made the hotel at Belton famous for its turkey dinners, and he will serve one of those turkey dinners next Sunday, which will mark the opening of the new hostelry. Scores of Edgefield people have already made known to Mr. Vause that it is their purpose to take dinner at the hotel next Sunday. If you expect to be one of those who will thus manifest to Mr. and Mrs. Vause that we, the people of Edgefield, are with him heart and hand in this new enterprise, let him know in advance, so a sufficiency of the feathered tribe may be slaughtered.
With great excitement and enthusiasm, The Edgefield Advertiser, on 15 December 1920, proclaimed the “Dixie Highway Hotel Open For Business.” The newspaper went on to state that:
- Edgefield at last has a hotel that is the joy and pride of her community, and what is better still the hostelry has a manager, the one who will really make the hotel, who is second to none in the state. The Dixie Highway hotel was opened for business Sunday, an elaborate turkey dinner Sunday being the first meal served. A hungry throng gathered to express to Mr. and Mrs. Vause their interest and spirit of co-operation by registering for dinner and supper, 110 being served at dinner and about 40 for supper. Without a single exception everybody was delighted. The menu was elaborate and everything was beautifully served. It was also prepared and seasoned to the king’s taste. Notwithstanding the fact that Sunday was the opening day, with the serving force yet untrained, Mr. Vause handled the crowd splendidly. Everybody went away fully satisfied and with words of highest commendation of the new management. The Dixie Highway hotel is conceded by persons who know to be the most modern and best appointed hotel in the State outside of the cities and with his executive ability and past experience there is no doubt about Mr. Vause making a great success of the enterprise.
With great zeal and eagerness, organizations, businesses, and individuals flocked to the Dixie Highway Hotel to enjoy its amenities and support this new, grand, innovative structure in the Town of Edgefield. On 5 January 1921, there was a report of the American Legion Meeting published in The Edgefield Advertiser which stated that “. . . it was decided to have a banquet for the ex-service men of the county at the Dixie Highway Hotel on the 21st day of January, 1921 at 8 p. m. This banquet will be given exclusively for the ex-service men and each man is given the privilege of bringing one or more ladies as he deems necessary. . .”
On 19 January 1921, it was announced in the newspaper that “Walter Morgan, the colored barber has moved his shop into the room in the basement of the hotel arranged for a barber shop. The room is well lighted, steam heated and is supplied with hot and cold running water. This barber shop should be kept like a city shop.” In that same issue, Walter Morgan advertised his new business under the heading “Hotel Barber Shop.” It appears below:
- I take this means of informing the public that I have moved my barber shop into the basement of the new Dixie Highway Hotel and invite the people to give me a call. The room in the basement of the hotel designed for the barber shop is steam heated and has hot and cold running water all the time. I am equipped for giving better service than ever. I will have competent help so my patrons will not have to wait an unreasonable time. My shop can be reached through the lobby of the hotel or from the side street.
Also on 19 January 1921, the “Guests at the Dixie Highway Hotel For the Past Week” was published in The Edgefield Advertiser. This list appears below and on the next page:
Wednesday, January 12, 1921.
- H. Hudson, Atlanta; H. M. McCain, Greenwood; J. M. Gregory, Laurens; M. A. Goode, Greenwood; L. M. Weisiger, Laurens; S. L. Jackson, L. P. Jones, Columbia; C. B. Eggleston, Richmond; A. B. Carwile, City; J. L. Kennerly, Winnsboro; J. S. Scurry, B. B. Jones, A. M. Timmerman, G. W. Adams, E. C. Asbell, L. S. Kernaghan, City; C. M. Ellis and family, Savannah; A. A. Burdette, Columbia.
Thursday, January 13, 1921.
- L. Hirshberg, Atlanta; W. B. Cogburn, Paul Cogburn, City; F. E. Schrim, Augusta; T. G. Horne, Augusta; L. W. Zaller, Augusta; D. F. Kolur, Augusta; Geo. F. Wing, E. L. Oliver, J. H. Caughman, Columbia; R. B. Allen, A. D. DePass, Columbia.
Friday, January 14, 1921.
- E. Rearden, Augusta, J. S. Byrd, Geo. F. Mims, R. H. Norris, City; S. L. Knopf, New York; J. Davis, Norfolk; H. C. Porter, Jr., Columbia, E. C. Asbell, J. L. Holston, City.
Saturday, January 15, 1921
- C. Warren, W. H. Cantelou, City; Russel [sic] P. Dolan, Boston; Norman H. Rice, Camden; M. B. Tucker, T. A. Tightower [sic], City; J. L. Holston, Edgar G. Strother, E. C. Asbell, R. H. Norris, City.
Sunday, January 16, 1921.
A dinner party was enjoyed by Misses Miriam Norris, Genevieve Norris, Annie Wilson, Bettie Metzler, and Mr. and Mrs. M. B. Tucker. Miss Snow Jeffries, City and Mr. J. P. Bland, Johnston; Messrs S. B. Mays, Jr., W. H. Mays and Miss Elizabeth Smith constituted a party for supper. J. A. Powell, Augusta; J. W. Tompkins, Columbia.
Monday, January 17, 1921.
- H. Anderson, Birmingham; R. M. Smith, Augusta; J. G. Steadman and wife, Leesville; F. F. Lozenby, L. W. Graves, Augusta; C. A. Tosh, Atlanta; Jas. E. Hart, City; F. E. Schroder, Augusta; Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Courtney, Trenton; G. H. Edwards, High Point, N. C.; J. W. Rims and J. W. Tompkins, Columbia; Misses Elizabeth and June Rainsford and Prof. C. F. Brooks, City; E. E. Owens, Charleston.
Tuesday, January 18, 1921.
- S. Henderson, C. J. Hill, Aiken; J. G. Sells, Augusta; Boyd Fisher, Boston and T. A. Hightower, City; E. R. Heyward and Geo. E. LaFaye, Columbia and F. E. Schroder, Augusta; H. W. Jernigan, E. E. Pounds, Augusta; Fred A. Jones, Greenville; W. A. Mooney, Greenville; Dr. W. C. Miles, Griffin, Ga., Carl J. Mock, Pathe Film Co.; W. P. Vick, Atlanta; R. Leo Portlock, Jr., Felix B. Greene, Columbia; T. A. DeArmon, Charlotte; A. J. Davis, Greenwood; Geo. Colvin, Taunton, Mass.
Of all the amenities the Dixie Highway Hotel had to offer, the greatest had to be its grand dining room, which was fully appreciated and utilized by Edgefield citizens. On 26 January 1921, The Edgefield Advertiser reported that:
- Friday evening from 7:30 to 9:30 Mr. T. A. Hightower, superintendent of the Addison Mills, proved himself to be a charming host at the Dixie Highway Hotel, where he gave a banquet in compliment to the head men of the several departments of the mill and a few other friends. The occasion was one of unusual pleasure to all present. As the guests arrived they were seated in the spacious and very comfortable lobby of the hotel, where half an hour was pleasantly and profitably spent in social intercourse. Soon the large doors of the brilliantly lighted dining room were thrown wide open and all were invited to occupy seats around the long table which was beautifully decorated with cut flowers. An elaborate menu was daintily and bountifully served in courses. At the conclusion as cigars were handed the host now became toastmaster and after appropriate words of welcome and good fellowship presented in a very fitting way the speakers of the evening who, with their mirth and merriment together with some serious thoughts and wise counsel, entertained those present for a brief period. The occasion was exceedingly pleasant and will be a source of pleasant memories to all who were present. Hightower’s guests were as follows:
Dr. and Mrs. R. G. Lee, Mr. and Mrs. R. M. Scurry, J. L. Mims, L. W. Redd, J. A. Townsend, S. Y. Bryan, J. D. Sharp, F. A. Bostall, Less. Y. Moore, L. Wigfall Cheatham, Miss Annie Wilson, A. R. Sharp, D. L. Seacup, Rev. G. W. M. Taylor and M. B. Tucker, City; T. P. Salter, Trenton, Mr. and Mrs. W. W. Greene, Columbia; Miss Cora M. Johnson, Boston.
The construction of the Dixie Highway Hotel was believed by many citizens to be a herald for a new, gilded age in Edgefield, converting it from a small, sleepy village into a larger, modern town. It was seen as a necessity to assist in the transformation of the town and was a source of pride and excitement, especially since it was built through the efforts and monies of the townspeople. It took almost thirty years for the vacant space to be filled that had been left by the Great Fire of 1892, but the Dixie Highway Hotel rose from the ashes like a phoenix and became a colossal landmark on the public square of the Town of Edgefield.
The construction of the Dixie Highway Hotel was watched with eager anticipation by many of Edgefield’s citizens. On 12 December 1920, this grand hotel opened its doors for the first time and heralded in a new era in the Town of Edgefield’s social atmosphere. The boll weevil also made its appearance in Edgefield County at this same time, causing devastation to all of the local cotton farmers in the area. Nevertheless, from reading the newspaper accounts in The Edgefield Advertiser, the boll weevil’s havoc was, at first, no match for the excitement over the Dixie Highway Hotel, and lavish gatherings were constantly being hosted there. Some of the more interesting events held at the hotel are transcribed below and on the next couple of pages.
Bachelor Paul Cogburn Entertains Beautifully.
One of the most delightful social functions of many months in Edgefield was the seven o’clock dinner given Tuesday evening by Mr. Paul Cogburn, to which he invited a score of his friends. In spite of the lowering clouds over head and the slush and mud under foot, making travel by auto, even a la Ford, uncertain and unsatisfactory, all of the guest were present. Soon after all arrived they were ushered into the dining room, where the long, beautifully appointed table, radiant with cut glass, silver and vases of flowers, presented a lovely scene. An elaborate menu was served in courses, the number of the courses and the pleasant conversation, interspersed with wit and repartee, caused the guests to linger about the festive board an unusual length of time. From the room of feasting they were invited back into the parlor, where the Victrola gave added charm to the evening, contributing the full benefit of its large and varied repertoire. Here under the spell of the Victrola’s best time seemed to turn backward in its flight, making all of the belles and beaux sixteeners again. All of their childhood games, carrying some of them back many years and others not so many, were engaged in. Even the sedate and dignified fell in line with the gay and less grave. The delightful occasion will be a source of pleasant memories to all of the guests who were as follows
Misses June Rainsford, Mamie Dunovant, Pearl Padgett, Virginia Addison, Ruth Lyon, Ruth Tompkins, Annie Wilson, Ruth DeLoach, Gladys Padgett, Sophie Mims, Sadie Mims and Messrs. Charlie Brooks, H. M. Reynolds, George Adams, Claude Lyon, M. D. Lyon, Walter Cantelou, T. B. Greneker and Dr. A. R. Nicholson.—The Edgefield Advertiser, 2 February 1921.
- The members of the Junior Order of United American Mechanics held their annual banquet at the Dixie Highway Hotel Friday night. On this festive occasion each member was accorded the privilege of inviting a lady, which accounted for the presence of the wives, sisters and sweethearts. As the members arrived they were seated for a time in the spacious lobby of the hotel where they engaged in pleasant conversation. Promptly at 8:30 the dining room doors were thrown open and all were invited in where they were seated about the long rectangular table. Manager Vause maintained on this occasion his well established reputation for serving splendid suppers. The menu was elaborate and beautifully served in courses. As cigars were being handed Toastmaster A. Hightower arose and presented the speakers, among them being Rev. G. M. W. Taylor, S. B. Nicholson, S. M. Smith, Col. P. B. Mayson, T. B. Greneker, and J. L. Mims. The occasion was one of real pleasure to the members of the Order and their guests and will be long remembered.—The Edgefield Advertiser, 16 February 1921.
- University Alumni Organize.
About a dozen graduates of the South Carolina University gave a dinner at the Dixie Highway hotel last Saturday, forming an alumni council for Edgefield county by the election of Mr. C. A. Wells, chairman and Mr. J. O. Sheppard secretary. Mr. R. W. Wade of Columbia, secretary of the State Alumni Association, was present by invitation and made a short address. All graduates of the University in Edgefield county are urged to join.—The Edgefield Advertiser, 18 May 1921.
- Masonic Banquet.
Friday night the members of Concordia Lodge, A. F. M., gave a banquet in the beautiful dining room of the Dixie Highway Hotel and Manager Vause added new laurels to his already enviable reputation in providing a great feast. On this special occasion the members of the lodge were privileged to invite their wives, sweethearts and sisters, as the case may be, which accounted for the considerable number of ladies who participated in the feast. Covers were laid for about eighty-five. In addition to the membership of the Masonic lodge, Mr. and Mrs. W. W. Edgerton, of Aiken were present as guests of honor. At the conclusion of the feast Mr. J. H. Cantelou, master of the lodge, arose and introduced Mr. Edgerton, district deputy of grand lodge, who made an appropriate address.—The Edgefield Advertiser, 25 May 1921.
- Clemson College Club Banquet
The Dixie Highway Hotel where so many delightful affairs have been given, was the scene of a very elegant banquet last Saturday evening, July 2nd, given by the Edgefield Clemson Club. Capt. B. R. Tillman, county president, was a splendid toast master, calling on a number of the guests for impromptu toasts, which were responded to readily. Several musical numbers were given, adding to the happy program.
Plates were laid for twenty-four guests, and the several delightful courses were temptingly served. The members were accompanied by their wives, if so fortunate, otherwise by some member of the fair sex.
Such organizations are a force for great good in our county and are a source of inspiration to each person identified with them.—The Edgefield Advertiser, 6 July 1921.
- Banquet a Success.
Once more the American Legion Post of Edgefield county, under its present administration, made quite a success of a banquet given in the Dixie Highway Hotel on November 11th, 1921, in celebration of Armistice Day.
About fifty guests were served by Capt. and Mrs. Moore, who are adepts in preparing a feast. Those who honored the ex-soldiers by their presence as honorary guests were a number of ladies and Judges James B. Tompkins and W. T. Kinnaird. We were very glad to have with us these honored Confederate veterans and were sorry that the cold weather kept some of the other veterans of the Confederacy away. We were also charmed to have with us the young ladies.
The orchestra played several pieces and those present paused between courses to hear Judge James B. Tompkins, who made a delightful talk, tell us of the wonderful spirit of “pep” that he witnessed while in Chattanooga at the recent reunion of the Confederate veterans. Another delightful speaker was Mr. Frank Adams of Colliers, who is Chaplain of the Post of the county. The Hon. James O. Sheppard made an inspiring talk. The commander of the Post officiated as master of ceremonies. After the dinner quite a few adjourned to the parlor and several had the opportunity to dance by the music of our local musicians.
A MEMBER.—The Edgefield Advertiser, 16 November 1921.
- Tea Party Given in Honor of Teachers.
Mr. A. S. Tompkins gave a delightful tea party in compliment to the Edgefield teachers Friday evening at the Dixie Highway Hotel. Although his locks are whitening, many of his friends likening him to the inimitable Mark Twain, and his step is not as light and elastic as in the days of yore, yet Mr. Tompkins is youthful in spirit and will never cease to find congenial companionship among young people. Not one of his talented guests shared more fully or more heartily the spirit of this very pleasant occasion than did the popular and widely beloved host. Mr. Tompkins’ guests were Mr. W. O. Tatum, Jr., Mr. and Mrs. Mahoney, Mrs. W. M. Mooney, Miss Emmie Lanham, Miss Mamie Dunovant, Miss Margaret May, Miss Sallie Mae Nicholson, Miss Nell Bechan, Miss Caro DesChamps, Mr. and Mrs. M. B. Tucker and Miss Marie Leech. Mr. Tompkins’ daughters, Misses Ruth and Mae Tompkins were also members of the party. Capt. and Mrs. Moore, who early in their management of the hotel set a new pace in entertaining, made a new record Friday evening by the beautiful manner in which supper was served.—The Edgefield Advertiser, 7 December 1921.
- Parties for Miss Margaret May
The series of parties for Miss Margaret May, [daughter of Mr. and Mrs. C. E. May] were arranged through the day preceding the beautiful May-May marriage. . . .
. . . On Wednesday evening the entire bridal party was entertained at the Dixie Highway Hotel by Mr. John M. Mays, Jr., one of the ushers at the wedding. The guests assembled in the parlor of the hotel, which was brightened with vases of roses, impromptu music enlivening the moments. When supper was announced, the merry company repaired to the dining room, which was attractive with masses of Shasta daisies.
An elaborate menu of breast of chicken, rice, giblet gravy, macaroni, green peas, biscuits, Saratoga chips, pickles and iced tea, tomatoes with mayonnaise and chicken salad on lettuce hearts with ice cream and pound cake was prepared and served with the splendid service that Capt. and Mrs. Moore have made the Dixie Highway hotel famous for.
The host proved a most adept toast master, calling on a number of guests for responses and reading the good wishes that each guest had written on slips of paper by their dainty place cards.—The Edgefield Advertiser, 7 June 1922.
There was truly a great amount of excitement and enthusiasm surrounding the Dixie Highway Hotel during its first two years of operation. Suggestions were even made to make improvements to the Town of Edgefield to accommodate all of the visitors and guests of the hotel. One of these ideas is featured below:
Concrete Walk to Station.
Why not make it a continuous concrete walk on the south side of Main street leading from the railway station to the Dixie Highway Hotel? Most of the way is now paved. Who will take the matter up with the property owners? Let’s step by step, here a little and there a little, modernize Edgefield. A very good beginning has been made in concreting the beaten paths of pedestrians. By all means let’s try to get the entire walk leading from the station to the hotel paved. Strangers who come among us by rail use that walk more than any other.—The Edgefield Advertiser, 23 March 1921.
- During this time, new businesses were also opened in the bottom of the Dixie Highway Hotel. One of these was a grocery store started by Major W. A. Collett, who also owned and operated a drug store in the hotel. The ad for his business is featured on the left and an article about it is transcribed below:
- Major W. A. Collett, encouraged by the success he has achieved with his drug store in the Dixie Highway hotel block, has rented the store next door and has opened a first class stock of groceries. Everything is fresh from the mills and jobbers. In addition to the usual stock of groceries, Collett will make a specialty of garden and field seeds. Make your wants known to him.—The Edgefield Advertiser, 1 February 1922.
- In 1921, management of the Dixie Highway Hotel changed hands. The Edgefield Advertiser reported on 12 October 1921 that “ Foy A. Vause who has managed the Dixie Highway Hotel from the time it opened will leave in a few days for Florida, where he and Mrs. Vause will probably make their home. Capt. Capt. and Mrs. L. Y. Moore will assume the management of the hotel, the change being made sometime this week.” Almost exactly a year later, management changed hands again at the hotel. On 4 October 1922, The Edgefield Advertiser published an announcement that
- Chisolm of Fairfax, S. C., has succeeded Capt. and Mrs. L. Y. Moore in the management of the Dixie Highway Hotel. She has had three years of practical experience in hotel management and has been very successful. She will be cordially welcomed to Edgefield and the people will give her every possible co-operation in the management of Edgefield’s splendid new hotel, which has been so favorably and thoroughly established by Capt. Moore’s excellent management.
- It is curious to note that just a week earlier, 27 September 1922, The Advertiser reported the shocking news that “more valuable real estate will be sold on the block at Edgefield next Monday than for a long time. Among the property sold will be the handsome new Dixie Highway Hotel on the corner. It will go to the highest bidder. Valuable farms will also be sold.” Then, on 4 October 1922, the newspaper gave an account of the land sales that had occurred on the previous Monday. It stated that “a larger number of tracts of land than usual were sold at public outcry Monday but on account of the ravages wrought by the boll weevil there was but little demand for farm lands. . . . . The Dixie Highway Hotel was bid in by the Farmers Bank which held the mortgage on this valuable piece of Edgefield property.”
Reading these newspaper articles prompted further research into what could have happened to this prosperous business. Almost immediately, the answer became very clear. The devastation caused by the boll weevil had finally caught up with the Dixie Highway Hotel. Mr. William A. Strom, a very prosperous farmer and the primary financier of the hotel, virtually went bankrupt due to the boll weevil destroying his cotton crops. The hotel suffered the consequences. On 20 December 1922, the following ad was published in The Edgefield Advertiser.
Sheriff’s Sale Under Execution.
STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA COUNTY OF EDGEFIELD
(In the Court of Common Pleas.)
The Farmers Bank of Edgefield, S. C., Plaintiff, Against W. A. Strom and The Dixie Highway Hotel Company of Edgefield, Defendants.
Notice is hereby given that under and by virtue of the power and authority of an execution in the above entitled action issued out of the Court of Common Pleas in and for said County and State in behalf of Plaintiff above named, I have levied on the personal property herein below described and owned by the Defendant, The Dixie Highway Hotel Company of Edgefield, and will, before the Court House door in the Town of Edgefield, said county and state, during the legal hours of sale on Salesday in January, A. D., 1923, same being Tuesday, the second day of said month, sell the following described personal property owned by the said Defendant, The Dixie Highway Hotel Company of Edgefield, to wit: All the furniture, fixtures, linen, towels, slips, sheets, pillows, pillow cases, bed covers, spreads, blankets, comforts, mats, matting, linoleum coverings and runners on floors, carpets, rugs, tables of every kind, beds, bedsteads, chairs of every kind, bureaus, wardrobes, chiffoniers, stools, grip racks, fiber rush suites, table, fibre rush settees, desks for writing, dining tables and all other tables, refrigerators, ranges and cooking stoves, dressers, mattresses, cooking utensils of every kind and description, table-ware of every kind and description, china, glass wares, cutlery, table cloths, napkins, kitchen knives, table knives, all forks, spoons, silver ware, pots, pans, window shades, screens, detached counters, store cabinets, kitchen cabinets, office cabinets, shelving, hat racks, office desk, dishes and crockery of every kind and description, also all other personal property of every kind and description whatsoever, whether mentioned above or not and which is now in use or for use in the Dixie Highway Hotel or in any of the stores under the Dixie Highway Hotel, situate in the Town of Edgefield, County of Edgefield, State of South Carolina.
Levied on as the property of the Defendant, The Dixie Highway Hotel Company of Edgefield.
Terms of Sale: CASH.
- R. SWEARINGEN.
Sheriff of the County of Edgefield, State of South Carolina.
December 13th, 1922.
The Farmers’ Bank purchased the property at this sale and the hotel continued in operation until the 1960’s. In 1937, Senator J. Strom Thurmond bought the hotel and owned it for ten years. In 1960, Mr. William Walton Mims acquired the building and owned it until his death in 2007. He renamed it the Plantation House and operated it as a veteran’s home during the 1960’s and 70’s.
The Dixie Highway Hotel stands today as a mere shadow of its former ostentatious design. The dining room that was filled with laughter and gaiety from lavish parties and other social gatherings is now silent. The rooms that were proudly touted to have hot and cold running water have long been vacant. Yet the building still stands after ninety-six years as a testimonial to the willingness and perseverance of the townspeople of Edgefield. They wanted a grand hotel so strongly that they raised the money and built it themselves. This spirit is still alive and well in the Town of Edgefield and part of the Town’s revitalization is to breathe new life into this structure, now under the new ownership of “Dixie House LLC,” that once was referred to long ago as “the joy and pride of her community.”