In 1930, a raging fire destroyed the Hotel Olive. The entire town was saddened by its greatloss. The hotel, a Victorian grande dame, was easily the most beautiful and ornamental building in Huntingdon. One Huntingdon resident described it as "posh", and another as "uptownish." Hotel Olive it's dining room or ballroom oozing with atmosphere and romance, had been the scene ofmany balls and dances in earlier years. Ladies in fancy satins, silks, and bustles, and men formally attired, no doubt danced till the wee hours, to string ensembles.
The Hotel was built by Dr. W.M. Wright and named for the only daughter, Olive. It was a splended three story brick building, prickly with cupolas, balconies and chimneys. The hotel stood on the southwest corner of the square, next door to the post office, where "Bobs Used Cars" is now located. Upstairs, there were endless hallways and about30 rooms on each floor were baths with hot and cold water. It was lighted by electricity, and was one of only two housed in town which had a sewerage system.
The hotel had an impressive balcony, leaning toward the Court House, across the street. Its dining room would seat 300 guests.
It was completely destroyed by fire in 1930. Mrs. Dwayne Maddox recalls that she stood on the street corner with her daughter, Jackie and watched it burn, with great sadness. The hotel had a special meaning to Mrs. Maddox, it was the site of her engagement to her husband. "Ihad gone to a dance at the hotel with another boy, recalls Mrs. Maddox. "I didn'tknow he (her future husband) was coming home from college. They walked over to the drugstore, then of the benches in front hotel. There we became engaged.
The fire of undertermined origin, which destroyed Huntingdon's landmark, elicited theis response from one of the towns newspapers, "The blistered walls or fragments of them, now stand on the most prominent corner of Huntingdon to accentuate our loss and make more desolation the square which was considered one of the prettiest on the Broadway of America from El Paso to Knoxville."
A first hand account of the fire from Dr. Cross Tidwell of Nashville appears in the Sesquicentennial Book. Dr. Tidwell states that the coffee pot exploded in the coffee shop blowing out the sides of the building. Fried pies flew through the air in all directions. Several young men, Dr. Tidwell included, sat on the Court House steps, eating these pies and watchingthe fire. The post office next door was destroyed, but the mail was saved. A new post office was built in 1933, but the Hotel Olive was never rebuilt.
Contributed by William Altom - Article written by Roberta Cude