Remember When . . . Magnolia Hotel

The Magnolia Hotel was a landmark in Quincy, Florida, and has a special spot in the family history of SGES member, Valerie Bennett. Her great grandfather, Noah Burney, was manager of the hotel in the early 20th century. The photograph shown below is the only know photo of the hotel and was taken about 1908. Valerie discovered it in a box of things left by her father, William Hardy Westbrook, after his death. It is a family portrait of her Burney family.

Magnolia Hotel - Quincy, Florida

Magnolia Hotel – Quincy, Florida. From the personal collection of Valerie Bennett.

According to Valerie, the “handwriting belongs to William’s mother. ‘Father’ is Noah Burney, hotel manager, my great grandfather, ‘me’ is Lillian Elizabeth Burney, my grandmother, ‘Leslie’ is Lillian Elizabeth’s  brother, ‘Mother’ is Lillian Byrant Smith Burney, my great grandmother, ‘Aunt Ida’ is Ida Mary Smith, sister of Lillian Burney, my great aunt, ‘Grandmother’ is Mary Elizabeth Byrd Smith, my great great grandmother.”

Unfortunately, the hotel was demolished in the 1930s. The story is picked up by Dawn McMillian, one of the authors of the Gadsden County book mentioned here:

I would just add to your story the fact that when we were collecting photos for the Arcadia Publishing book, Gadsden County, we could see glimpses of the hotel, even an advertising billboard, in the background of several photos. When we received the downloads of the Sanborn Fire Insurance maps from the University of Florida, the hotel was clearly delineated in the maps. We matched the photos to the maps and were positive that what we were seeing was the Magnolia Hotel. It was very frustrating for us that we had no photos or postcards of the hotel to use in the book. We asked several people and no one remembered the hotel. We had even heard the story about Buffalo Bill staying at the hotel, but could not find any substantiating evidence. It was serendipitous that you sent the xerox of your photo of the hotel to the city of Quincy when you did, but unfortunate that it was after the book went to print.
Magnolia Hotel - painted by Dawn McMillian

Magnolia Hotel – by Dawn McMillian. Image courtesy of the artist.

Dawn is also an artist and has generously shared her watercolor of Valerie’s photograph.

NOTE: SGES members who have family stories – especially stories with photos – they would like to share are encouraged to forward them to the SGES Webmaster for posting here on the blog.