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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Inside The Josephine ~ Part 5 of 7

Well, it's time for the main floor.  I saved this floor for last because it simply has had endured the most change over the last 134 years. More businesses than I can count have occupied the ground floor. 

There were three separate businesses intended to be on the ground floor when the hotel was built.  Dr. Fleming, who built the hotel, saw the potential in investing in this concept.  He certainly hoped that businesses below the hotel would benefit from the guests staying at the hotel and vice versa.  It was a perfect plan and it worked.  Little did Dr. Fleming know that it would indeed work, but the hotel continued operating as a hotel about 105 years and that the ground floor retail area would also continue to house various businesses for ALL of its 134 years.  WOW!  That really is something.  Who does that?  Yes, if you are in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, and Atlanta, you probably will find buildings like that, but in Union Springs, Alabama?  Really?

So my tour continues on the ground floor.  Lets start with the far right section of the building which currently is occupied with retail items. 

Below are a series of photos I made of the ceiling on that side. These are the tin ceiling tiles that are original to the building.  Put there in 1880.  Aren't they marvelous? 

In the photo below you can very well see that they have been painted and the area that has not. This is due to the fact that there was a wall there until a few years ago. It was taken down to open up the area.  What you see below is the original load bearing wall beams.  The unpainted ones in the photo show you that they are original hewn rough cut timber. They are huge, thick, extremely heavy.  That's why those were chosen to hold up the two floors above.  I was told that a lot of timber was used from local trees, but the super large pieces like these were brought in by train, which actually was able to back up close to the building site.

When Allen and Joyce bought the building years ago this is the condition they found the same area you see in the photo above.  
What is cool is that what you are looking at here in the far background is the original staircase that came in from the street that led to the lobby on the 2nd floor.

What you see below are the after pictures of a makeover of the same spot.  That back row of Jewelry sits in the exact spot where the staircase entrance was.

A little jewelry and lighting makes this place beautiful again.  I think Josephine would have loved that.

One day while helping Joyce move these rolling bookcase things you see below, I suddenly looked up and noticed the room we were in.  It's not a large room but it was a kind interesting.  This is the room that I might say had something to do with the kitchen, which at one time was on the other side of that wall you are looking at.

For one thing... note those windows.  They are painted shut now.  But they are transoms and they go all they way across. That is because one of the 2 kitchens the hotel had was on the other side of that wall.  It would be really hot in there so those windows would have to be opened to allow some heat to escape and created a slight breeze.  

Below, a closer look and you can tell that this room had to be maybe pantry, and a prep area. There are cabinets that you see below and above.

See the old tongue and groove wood?  At that lock for the cabinet door is just old hook and eye just like on the old screen door of an old house in the country.

And what may seem small to others I thought was cool... was an old Coca cola bottle opener shown below.

Just turning to the right to show more of the same room.  Sorry for the blurry picture, I guess it's true you can't move and take pictures at the same time.

And back to the left to see the other side of the room.

The last thing I will say about this room is right behind me there was another door for another closet.  But note that little metal cone shaped bracket thing?  Well that holds what was called in the 1920's, a "Fire Grenade".  

This is what a fire grenade is.  It's made of glass and shaped like a light bulb.  The liquid inside is called Carbon Tetrachloride.  It was a very effective tool in fighting a fire.  So, say you have a fire in the kitchen that if you had one of these hanging on the wall.  You go grab it and throw it hard at the base of the fire and it would hopefully be extinguished.  These were probably all over the hotel at one time.

Example of a fire grenade.

Another example by another manufacturer.  These were also found in some older homes from the 20's and 30's.  I only learned this a few years ago from my Dad, who renovates, paints, and does construction and has encountered these.  One time he gave me one that he removed from a old home he was renovating.  The one I had was really beautiful so I put it on Ebay.  I thought it had water in it.  They, (Ebay), shut my listing down fast.  Turns out mine still had carbon Tetrachloride in it.  Very, very toxic.  I took it to the fire department and gave it to them to dispose.  Oh well, you always learn things the hard way.

Moving right along, we now leave this prep area as I call it and go into the next room.  Below is Joyce's office.  (Awful photo, sorry)

There are two additional doors that lead from Joyce's office.  This one below leads to that kitchen I mentioned above.  

This room is the old kitchen that I mentioned.  That wall there with all the pipes, is the where the sinks were.  I bet a lot of pots and pans got washed there.  Those are the transoms that I also mentioned before.

Yep, it's kind of like a storage room now, but look in the center of the photo.  See that hole? That hole was for the stove pipe that came from the wood burning stove that they used in those days.

That stove might have looked something like this one. 

For now we'll stop here and pick up on the tour in the next post. Part 6 will finish up the main floor and upcoming in part 7, I'll talk about some current things going on at The Joephine and what we can expect in the future from this Historical Landmark in Union Springs.

Thanks for taking time to read this post and I hope you'll share it with your friends.  

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Inside The Josephine ~ Part 4 of 7

Today in this post we're now on to the third floor of the Josephine Hotel.  This floor has a little different look than the first floor.  I believe this has a lot to do with a previous renovation many years ago, but it also has sustained a lot of damage over the years due to the previous owners neglecting the leaking roof.  Be that may, Allen and Joyce Perrin, the current owners put a new roof on the building a few years ago and are now doing their level best to make repairs and renovate the best they can.  

Let's begin touring the third floor.

Below, this is one of the front rooms facing Prairie Street.  This spacious room included the best view, a fireplace, sink, and access to a share bathroom.  Now, that was a pretty big deal in those days.

Note the closet below, I don't believe the closets were original to the hotel, but were later added.  Folks really didn't have closets in those days, they used what are called a "wardrobe" or an "armoire" which may have been in the rooms at the time.

Below, you see the view from the point when you arrive at the top of the grand staircase.  The large hall is very spacious and would have had chairs, lamps, small sofas for seating.  Note the light from above comes from the two skylights.  This kept the floor well lit in the day time.  Great for sitting and reading or doing needlepoint. 

A closer look at the skylight area... 
Check out the amazing condition of the railings.  Still in pretty good condition, despite the water that poured in from above.

Looking up through one of two skylights.  I believe this was a real marvel and ahead of its time in 1880.  The dome you see however, isn't the original.  The owners didn't want to replace the original beautiful glass dome.  I saw photos of it and it was beautiful, but badly damaged and it leaked pretty bad.  Previous owners just kept packing it with tar instead of fixing the problem.  Pretty soon it was beyond repair.  Sad.

The view from the third floor skylight area to the second floor.  As you might imagine, it kept that floor pretty well lit too.

Transoms like in the picture below are above all the doors.  They not only provide light, but when open, they help push air throughout the building.  Even in the summer, a light breeze could always be felt.  But they leave little to be desired when it comes to privacy.  My husband and I stayed at a renovated hotel just like this one a few years ago. It was exactly as I described.  There was a delightful breeze always blowing through the building, even though it was 98 degrees outside.   I sat in the lobby for hours buried in a book.  You couldn't have moved me with a crowbar.  

As you walk about halfway down this hall, you find a closet on the left that would have been the linen closet.  This is where the sheets, pillows, blankets, and towels would have been kept. And yes, this is one of those old sewing machines you pump with your feet.  Almost everyone knows someone with one of these or has a Grandmother who had one.  I inherited my Grandmother's too.  This one probably was used by a staff member to do repairs on linens or perhaps do repairs for hotel guests.

What you are looking at below is an old laundry cart used here to gather dirty linens and roll them down to the laundry.  (Sorry for the quality of photos.  Still new to the camera)

Below, this was found on the second floor.  It's an old iron.  This was more than likely used to press sheets and pillowcases.  

I looked up this model and it came to live here around the mid 1940's

 Below:  There are just a couple of these cup holders left in the building.  Also note, the dark stain wood door there.  This is the original stain walnut wooden door color.  Rare, because as you have seen from most of my pictures, Almost all the wood, doors, railings, and stairs have been painted over.  But somehow, this one was missed.  

Another room with a shared bathroom.

I don't know about this bathtub sharing thing.  Doesn't sound like something I would want to do.

Another sofa... left behind.

Below are just a few of the many items left behind over the years.  Some people may call it junk, while others may look beyond the appearance and see something more.  A flask, gloves, a handkerchief,  a package of buttons,  and a cookbook to name a few. All have a story to tell.  Who owned these items?  Where did those people come from?  Why were they staying at The Josephine Hotel?  Why did they get left behind?

A small bottle of perfume and a picture Bible.

A cookbook from Virginia

A package of sewing needles

Part of a letter

Maybe a pencil holder?  Or a toothbrush holder for a very large family?

An old photograph

A German Christmas Card

Booklet that many women would have found useful

Orphaned gloves with no mates

Mother and child photo

Strange item to be left in a hotel so far from the beach.  But it is a beautiful shell.

A letter to someone's Aunt Minnie in Troy

A commemorative coin-like paper weight... dated 1912 - 1937

This very small spoon, which could have been for a baby.     Sterling Silver.

Small bottles of all types have been found here and there in the building.  

Sketch of the way the Josephine looked when she was built.

This is cool too...  
What this shows you is Prairie Street there on your left.  The Josephine Hotel on your right.  See the upper right outlined in red?  That is the offices and hotel staff sleeping quarters.  This is located right where Amerifirst Bank is sitting today.  The two lines connecting the hotel and the sleeping quarters is a 2nd floor crosswalk.  It crossed over the alley.  Then down on your lower right you the original kitchen area and water tank both on the opposite side of the alley, which was believed to be covered.  In later years the kitchen was inside.  Fascinating to say the least.

So for now we are through with the 3rd floor of the hotel.  In my next blog post I will take you through the ground floor and show you some never before seen areas of the building.  The ground floor is very interesting and I saved that for last as this floor has undergone most of the changes in its history.  With the ground floor having been built specifically to house three separate businesses at any given time.  It really has quite the history.  You'll enjoy this part of the series immensely.  

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