Coffeeville Hotel, Coffeeville Mississippi
From 1906 until World War II, the Coffeeville Hotel played an important role in the business life of the town of Coffeeville. For over seventy-five years it has been a local landmark due to its prominent location and distinctive architectural design.
From the turn of the century until World War II, Coffeeville was the "turn around" point for the engineers and crews of the Illinois Central Railroad. In addition, the town was the county seat of Yalobusha County and as such was a center of legal and commercial activity in this agricultural region. The Coffeeville Hotel, therefore, provided room and board for railroad men, passengers, salesmen, and visiting professionals. Its rooms were used by the local undertaker for the display of caskets arriving by train, and by travelling salesmen, or "drummers", for the display of their product samples. The dining room was frequently used by juries who were sent to the hotel by the judge for meals during court recesses. In addition, the hotel served as a social center for local businessmen, many of whom made it a temporary home while beginning their careers.
Constructed in 1906 for W. H. Hamblet of Coffeeville, the building was first known as the Hamblet Hotel. The name was changed to the Coffeeville Hotel by the subsequent owner, Hamblet's daughter, Mollie Hamblet Smith.
Between 1900 and 1950, the population of Coffeeville slowly increased from 467 to 739. During these years the hotel played a prominent role in the commercial life of the town by providing room and board for travellers as well as local businessmen. For the latter the hotel became a center for social activity.
Following World War II the importance of the Illinois Central Railroad declined and the hotel entered a period of decline. In 1957 the hotel was converted to use as a rooming house and ceased to be a focal point of the community. Since its acquisition by the Corps of Engineers in 1980, the building has been vacant.
The building measured 71 feet wide x 52 feet deep.
The first floor is symmetrical about a central hallway leading from the front door, which opens onto the portico, to the main stairway at the rear. On the northeast side of this hallway are a series of 14'-6" square rooms, used for rental to clients. At the north corner are two adjoining rooms formerly used as the "undertaker's suite". These were heated by two of the corner fireplaces, sharing a common chimney. Two other rooms at the south corner shared similar corner fireplaces.
To the southwest of the central hallway are two larger rooms, the westernmost containing a second stairway. This room originally served as the hotel lobby, and shares another corner fireplace with the square room at the west corner of the building. The second large room, at the south corner, was used as the dining room. Originally a kitchen wing and rear porch adjoined the the dining room to the southeast; these have been demolished. The dining room now contains a lunch counter added c.1957. In the east corner is a fireplace.
The Second Floor has a central hallway directly above that on the first floor divides the floor into two symmetrical halves and links the main stair at the southeast end with the upper portico on the front of the building. A secondary corridor runs perpendicular to this hallway and affords access to the 14'-6" square guest rooms. In addition, two rooms at the north and' west corners are accessible from the ends of the portico. The corner fireplaces on the first floor are repeated in similar positions on this level. A toilet room and tub room are also provided adjacent to the secondary stair.