Historic Hotel and Store Left Behind in Alabama

Whatley Hotel & Store | Clarke County, AL | c. 1888

Whatley Hotel c. 1888-1962
Coleman Brothers Store c. 1889-1962

The Town of Whatley

Originally home of Creek and Choctaw Indians, Whatley was first settled by pioneers about 1808. A Creek War battle occurred here in 1812 at Fort Sinquefield, the location of an early fort built by settlers for protection against the Creeks who were British allies during the War of 1812. Also nearby is the Old Line Road (Co. Rd. 35) that follows near the surveyed “Indian Boundary Line” which separated the Creek from the Choctaw. One of the earliest churches in the area was Horeb Baptist Church, founded on September 9, 1825. The town was first called Horeb in honor of this church. Eventually, the town was renamed “Whatley”, in honor of Franklin Benjamin Whatley (October 1, 1826-June 8, 1896). Mr. Whatley was the grandson of Elder Willis Whatley, an early Baptist minister of Clarke County.

When the Mobile and Birmingham Railroad came through the county in 1886-87, land on which the depot was built was deeded to the railroad by Mr. F. B. Whatley. The railroad, in turn, honored Mr. Whatley by naming the depot in his honor. The post office officially changed its name from Horeb to Whatley on August 20, 1890. Following the coming of the railroad and in the first part of the 20th century, Whatley was the trading and shipping center for the large, prosperous farming community. Several mercantile businesses sprang up around the depot. Mrs. Nancy Whatley operated a hotel in the business area and her daughter, Mrs. David Coleman, was the proprietor of the hotel for many years.

Pictured at the Coleman Store: Evie Coleman, Dr. J.C. Godbold, Bodie, and Lee Coleman Courtesy Bernice Godbold.
Sitting on the porch of the Coleman Store are (L to R) Percy Lee Baskew, Bert Foreman, Danny & Lee Coleman. Photo courtesy of Susan Coleman.

The Whatley Hotel

The Whatley Hotel is a two-story, wood frame, building with a steep hip roof and an attached, wraparound, two-tier gallery displaying Queen Anne design elements such as turned posts with comer brackets and a spindled balustrade. The foundation for the Whatley Hotel was laid in early 1888. It is believed that Alexander David Whatley, the eldest son of F. B. Whatley, constructed the building.

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The Clarke County Democrat reported in February 1888 that he was laying the foundation for a hotel and in the August 1888 issue of the Clarke County Democrat, it read: “Messrs Nettles & Dacy are putting up a handsome, commodious building at Whatley, to be used as a hotel.” Presumably, Nettles and Dacy were the first owners.

The first manager of the hotel was Mrs. Tracy Bettis Anderson. Later on, Alexander’s wife, Nancy A. Spinks Foreman Whatley, operated the hotel for many years. It was then managed by Mary Simian Coleman. From the 1930s or 1940s until c. 1962 when the hotel closed, it was managed by Velma Garrick Coleman.

All of the buildings in Whatley are Private Property.
Please admire them from your car and do not bother the locals when visiting.

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