Source – “A Town Spring Forth” by Gene Welborn.
Did you know that Williamston was once considered the Saratoga of the South?
After the town was chartered in December, 1852, several grand hotels could be found in Williamston including the Williamston Hotel in the mid 1850’s, and the Williamston Springs Hotel, which made Williamston one of the largest resort centers in the South during the few years prior to the War Between the States.
In 1860, after several very prosperous years, the looming war resulted in a disappointing year for the hotel, and the owners were forced to offer it for sale.
Offered by auction, no buyer was found and the next morning the building burned to the ground.
It was never determined what started the fire.
Another hotel was built and was eventually purchased in 1872 by Samuel Lander and became Williamston Female College. After the school was moved to Greenwood in 1904 and became Lander College, the building was reopened as the Park View Hotel until about 1911.
In 1905, the Williamston hotel was located across from the Presbyterian Church on Mills Street,. The building was destroyed by fire in November 1965.
Another hotel, the Williamston Hotel opened in the late 1860’s or early 1870’s.
The Hotel Bon Air opened in the late 1800’ and by 1900 had changed its name to the Wallace House. In 1910 it changed names back to Bon Air Hotel.
The three small hotels in the town during 1900 were not enough to accommodate the demand for rooms and in September 1900, The Williamston News ran an editorial expressing a need for more hotels in Williamston. It read:
The fact has been fully demonstrated within the past few weeks that we are sadly in need of more hotels in Williamston. A large number of people from different parts of the state applied here for board and rooms recently, but our hotels and boarding houses have for some time been crowded to their capacity and not more could be taken.
This state of affairs should no longer exist in the face of the fact that Williamston is growing more popular every year and is known far and near as one of the most delightful summer resorts in the Piedmont country, with it’s fine medicinal springs, the curative properties of which have relieved many cases of suffering after all other remedies had failed. Besides, our climate is just what the people of the low country want. Then let us go to work now with a view to entertaining royally all who may desire to visit us next season.
The casual observer may look around and see that our town is no longer a “broad place in the road,” that it appeared fifteen years ago. But with the addition of the oil mill, ginnery, roller mills, bank, planing mills and big cotton mills now in course of construction, it would seem that we are an enterprising people and mean to keep abreast of this progressive age in which we live. In order that we may do this we must have another hotel, so that visitors coming here for the summer will no longer have to engage rooms a month or so before coming, or be turned away entirely for lack of these accomodations.