Friday, November 16, 2007

The Hotels of Port Tobacco

R.G. Barbour provides descriptions of the two hotels, the Centennial and the St. Charles, that served Port Tobacco in the late 1800s. His descriptions are as follows.

"Opened in 1876. George Hunt, its proprietor, names it in honor of the Centennial Exposition taking place at the same time. It was a comfortable place and a haven for the weary traveler. On "co't" days it accommodated throngs. All of the young bachelors of the village who had no homes dwelt here."

St. Charles
"The St. Charles hotel belonged to the Burch family in its last years. It was torn down in the 90's. It had 25 large bedrooms on the upper floor. The lower floor had a dining room that seated 200 people, a breakfast room, card room, bar room, double parlor, and kitchens. There was also a living room and bedroom for the proprietor. There was another bar room in the basement for the rough customers along with the servants quarters. The trees were very old aspens. This hotel contained the finest ballroom in Southern Maryland and all of the County balls were held here."

These differences in function and clientele should be quite apparent from the archaeological record of each property. The relatively young age of the Centennial (likely open for less than 20 years) and the fact that it was used as a boarding house too may complicate our analyses. While the extravagant artifacts of the St Charles should be easily differentiated from the domestic artifacts of neighboring properties, the more commonplace artifacts I'd expect to find at the Centennial may look a lot like those from the neighboring houses and whatever occupied the property before it.


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