Shelby Iron Works

Shelby, Alabama




Posted: 03/18/2013  By: Daniel Valles

“The Hotel was built during the late 1800’s and it was there when we moved to Shelby during World War I. It was considered to be one of the finest hotels in this area, because it had electric lights and running water. No other hotel in this area had that. The reason it had water was the Iron Company had to have water, and so the hotel got it’s water from the same place the Columbiana gets its water today. The hotel was very pretty. It was always clean on the inside and outside. A nice matron was hired to run the hotel. They had lovely meals there, and we use to eat there on Sunday’s. The hotel was painted a light gray and was trimmed in white. All of the traveling men that stayed in and around Shelby stayed in the hotel. It was very popular then. We used to have the best times there, for we had parties there and played bridge. They also had a tennis court there.” - Mrs. Lina Wood, Columbiana, 1977

The Shelby Hotel, orinally called the Dennemora House, is a two-story wood frame structure. It has a brick foundation, which supported the original building built in 1863. The original building was destroyed by fire in 1898, and the present hotel was built in 1900. The Shelby Hotel served the community at a time when the iron industry was at its peak. It is considered the oldest operating hotel in Alabama, and the first one in the state with electricity and internal plumbing. This was due to the capital which the New England businessmen brought to the Shelby Iron Company after the Civil War.

Managed in its heyday by Ma Beau, the hotel required advance reservations for accommodations. The hotel contains fifteen bedrooms, an office, a dining room wing, a kitchen, pantry, and two bathrooms. Inside the front door is a hallway which bisects the hotel from front to back. The back stairway was once adjacent to a back stairwell which led to a wing with thirty rooms. The “Honeymoon Room” and the “Company Room” upstairs have been used by two governors and their wives.

Anyone could stay at the Hotel, but it was mostly occupied by Shelby Iron employees. It cost $25.00 a month for a room and three meals a day. There were approximately fifteen to twenty boarders staying in the twenty-five room, two-story Hotel. In 1925, the rooms had beds, sinks, and dressers. The rooms were often cold, as fireplaces provided the heat for some of the rooms. Wood stoves heated the new addition, which had been built to accommodate more people. The new addition was torn down after the Shelby Iron Company shut down.

The vacant Hotel, as it appears today, on private property adjoining the park.