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JIM: New Adair Hotel went by many names in 79 year history

Whatever the badge, whatever day in its history, it was always first class. The kind of place which would, of itself, become a destination; which would have have Canadian tour busses backed up from Burkesviile Street, Columbia, KY to British Columbia, Jim says, taking a 'Waggenerian flight from reality' -EW

By "Jim"

During the course of its 79 years of existence, the New Adair went by many names. It opened in late November, 1898 as the Conover Hotel, Mr. John N. Conover, the owner, having contracted with Messrs. Davis & Moss of Glasgow to do the work. In the spring of 1898 the News commented that "The exact sum Mr. Conover is to pay has not been made public, but it is said to be six thousand dollars."


In subsequent years it was known as the Marcum, the Columbia, the Hancock (not to be confused with the Hancock Hotel on Burkesville Street!), the Columbia (again), the Jeffries, the Miller, and finally, in the late 1930s, the New Adair Hotel.

In an article announcing the forthcoming "magnificent structure," the November 24th, 1897 paper stated that "It will contain twenty-eight rooms and will front the square and Greensburg street. It will be built upon a modern plan. It will have a dome and the public room will be on the corner of the square and Greensburg street." (A later announcement stated there would be 30 rooms.)

Over the course of the next several months, occasional updates appeared in the paper, most notably of Mr. Conover's decision to build a brick rather than a frame structure.

A few days before the hotel opened in the fall of 1898, the News reported that

We went through the building a few days ago and the inside work like the outside, is first-class in every particular. The stairways are perfect beauties--all hardwood finish. The other work has not been slighted in the least; and not only the proprietor, but the citizens of the town generally should be proud of this building...

There is no sign of shoddy work inside or out. Every joint fits tight and the doors swing clear. Mr. Davis is an architect and the above mentioned Hotel verifies his ability and skill for designing such a neat and convenient building in all its parts. This building will stand as a monument to the memory of Davis & Moss as well as to that of its owner, John N. Conover.


Another edition stated that "An itinerant painter is doing some nice sign work about town. The lettering 'Conover Hotel 1898,' is quite prominent, and the smaller signs are very attractive."

The exact date the Conover Hotel received its first guests isn't known, but the November 30, 1898 News wasted no words with this terse announcement: "The new hotel is now open."

The next evening, December 1st, the formal opening was held with the Twentieth Century Club, "an organization composed of the cream of the young gentlemen of Columbia," hosting the gala, pronounced in advance as "the most elegant affair ever gotten up in Columbia."

Gushed the News in the lead paragraph of a lengthy article in the December 7th edition, "No more attractive event was ever before held in Columbia, and the crowd, distinguished for its culture, refinement and gaiety, almost filled the spacious corridors and elegant apartments."

Continued the article,

The table was laden with choice and delicious fruits, from the middle of which a beautiful parlor lamp effused a radiating light. Extending lengthwise the wall, fronting the entrance to the banquet hall, the initials "T.C.C.," the monogram of the Twentieth Century Club, encased with wreaths of entwining holly, on a background of snowy swiss, cast a scintillating ray, as if of welcome, to the appreciative and invited guests. Jardiniers of beautiful tropical palms studded the room also, and added effectively to the charming decorations...

The young ladies were all elegantly costumed, many attractive and unique colors, fashionably made, being in evidence.


The News described the attire & accessories of each and every lady who graced the occasion with her presence. For examples, Miss Fannie Garnett wore "white Paris muslin over white silk, white chrysanthemums;" Miss Sallie Rey Marcum, "blue silk and black satin;" and and Myrtle Staples, "dark green silk bodice and black brocaded skirt, jewels."

That December night nearly fivescore and thirteen years ago, 47 young men, 56 young ladies, eight matrons, and seven married couples enjoyed the food, fun, and festivities. Thus spake the News in summary of the event: "The members of the Twentieth Century Club have smothered themselves with glory, and have added another brilliant gem to their already large list of social successes."

As soon as the hotel opened, Mr. W.T. Price removed his tonsorial parlor there from his quarters over the Paull Drug Store and invited customers to come by his new digs to be divested of their whiskers.

Some of the proprietors & managers through 1910 were George "Root" Coffey & wife; Mrs. Kate Smith; Mr. M.H. Marcum, and upon his death in 1904, his widow, Martha; J.D. Barbee; Mrs. L. C. Hurt, "hostess and manager of the culinary affairs;" Jo H. Smith and Geo. H. Nell & wife, the latter in charge of things culinary; Mrs. Puss Pursley and daughters, the Misses Carrie & Clara, of far-off Edmonton, in charge of the culinary department and dining-room; Coy E. Dudgeon; Junius Hancock; H.A. (Allen) Walker & wife; and Mr. J.P. Jasper, late of Springfield, Ill.

Compiled by "Jim."


This story was posted on 2011-08-04 05:55:01
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