Part 2: Imperial Hotel served Sumter well

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This week's Reflections ends a two-part series on Sumter's Imperial Hotel. The conclusion will present an in-depth look at the bedrooms and parlor, as well as the story of the Imperial's fate.

Located on the first floor of the hotel were the bedrooms and a guest parlor. Andrew L. Jackson, the owner and manager, and his family had rooms on this floor. The bedrooms were finished in white with dark-colored borders. They were lighted with electric lights and provided with porcelain lavatories, wall mirrors and other conveniences. The furniture of the rooms on the second floor consisted of imitation mahogany and were considered substantial and comfortable. Rocking chairs and writing desks were placed in all the rooms. There was a bathroom provided for every third room, although several of the rooms had private baths and toilets.

There were three bridal chambers, fitted with bathrooms, two sets of lavatories and a dressing room. Art squares were on the floors, and the beds were made of brass. The second floor was furnished with English-style oak furniture and featured brass or wooden beds, this being the only change from the first-floor furniture.

The parlor had a hardwood floor and was furnished with heavy oak furniture. It was attractively fitted and arranged for the convenience of the guests. It opened to an outside roof parlor, which proved a delightful place in the evenings.

The Imperial Hotel cost Jackson $70,000 for the lot, building and furniture. It was a beautiful building, was conveniently situated and had several attractive features that most hotels lacked. All the rooms were outside rooms, which added much to the comfort of the guests.

Jackson secured the services of W. Lee Harbin of Lexington, North Carolina and Sumter, as contractor, and Wheeler and Stern of Charlotte were the architects in charge. The plans for the building, however, were mostly drawn by Jackson. He had a definite idea of what the hotel should be. Provision was allowed so that an additional story could be added and the wings extended toward the rear in case it became necessary to do this in the future.

Jackson had formerly operated Hotel Sumter and Jackson Hotel. Both were successful ventures, and he was known as a successful hotel man. Assisting Jackson was a force of experienced hotel clerks and assistants. T.J. Duckett, who had for many months managed Central Hotel in Florence, was manager and chief clerk. Duckett was well known by and popular among the traveling men of the state. A.M. Woodward, of Albion Hotel at Augusta, Georgia, was designated the night clerk. J.D. Brady held the position of steward. Mrs. A.C. Peterson of Charlotte was housekeeper, and Mrs. Saili Oliver of Bennettsville served in the pantry.

According to The Sumter Daily Item "the hotel was sold at auction June of 1914 at the court house to Mr. R. Dozier Lee, attorney, for $42,375, who also purchased the furniture in the building for $2,650." The hotel was purchased by Mr. Lee who represented the people who owned Claremont Hotel, and it was thought that it would be run as a rooming house in connection with the Claremont. After World War II, the hotel was sold to the Fladger family and the name was changed to the Fladger Hotel. Once the family left town the hotel was taken over by Mr. Hodges. It later burned and was razed circa 1968 according to the late Mayor W.A. "Bubba" McElveen.

Information and photos used to complete this article were taken from Sumter Item archives; the story was reprinted with a degree of editing.

Reach Sumter Item Archivist Sammy Way at waysammy@yahoo.com or (803) 774-1294.