Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Mystery Deepens

Something has been bugging me about the Centennial Hotel for a few weeks now. Field analysis indicates there might be two buildings west of the Wade house where the Centennial Hotel once stood. The photograph below was taken in 1915 and it shows the Wade house and the hotel in an advanced state of decay. Note the proximity of the two buildings: they are on the same axis and appear to abut each other.

Wade House (left) and Centennial Hotel (right), 1915.

Now look at the next photograph. It's date is unknown, but it obviously predates the photograph above. Again, it shows the Wade house on the left with the front porch intact and the house is obviously maintained. What about the building seen on the right? It sits a considerable distance behind the Wade house. Is this the Centennial? In any case, we have two different buildings.

Undated photograph, Episcopal Church on right, ca. 1892-1895.

This picture must date to the time soon after the courthouse burned (1892) as it is part 2 of a panoramic view of the green. The other picture shows the burned out courthouse and the Episcopal Church. This creates another problem. If the older building was standing in the 1890's, how is it that it was removed, another structure was built, and fell into ruins in the space of only 25 years? It's possible I suppose, but the second structure was sizeable and took a considerable effort to build. Why would it have been allowed to decay after so little time?

The old photographs are an invaluable part of the historical record. It's a shame more snap shots do not survive. If any one of the millions of blog readers have some old pictures of Port Tobacco, please send them along.

Don't forget that Jim (assisted by me) will be discussing the Project at the Courthouse on Sunday January 27th from 1-3 pm. It should be fun and informative.

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