By Kelly Hargett
The Davis Hotel sat on Main Street in downtown Kernersville. It is frustrating that no really good pictures of the Davis Hotel exist today. One picture gives us a glimpse of the porch from the street. A Sanborn Map from 1915 gives us a great idea of what the home looked like, but we must use our imagination to fill in the details. For those of you who may not know, the Sanborn Map Company created detailed maps of cities and towns in the 19th and 20th centuries, and were used by insurance companies to assess the liability of an area.
From newspaper articles, we know that the hotel was a 12-room house that sat within sight of the train depot. The building boasted a large porch that wrapped around the house to one side. By 1909, newspapers boasted about Kernersville’s ability to take good care of tourists and commercial salesmen since they now had three well equipped hotels in town. The Davis Hotel seemed to be the most “cozy” of the three, as articles of the day referred to “quantities of beautiful magnolias used as decoration, while in the parlor the same fragrant blossoms were placed on mantel, piano and table.” Renowned German artist, Caesar Milch, of New York City, who painted the frescoes in the home of Jule Körner, known as Körner’s Folly, spent the holidays of 1912 at the Davis Hotel.
The Davis Hotel was known as a fine, family-friendly establishment. Many people came and went from the hotel, on both short and long-term stays. Even some of Kernersville’s long-term residents lived in the hotel for various reasons throughout their lives. Carrie Pinnix Stone, her husband Moses, and daughter Mary were listed as residents of the hotel during the 1910 census. This was probably due to the fact that by 1910, Moses was suffering from tuberculosis and he and Carrie were splitting their time between Kernersville and a sanatorium in Asheville, in the hopes of improving his health.
The beautiful home had become a place of comfort for many in Kernersville. So, it was a shock on that February morning in 1919 that the Davis Hotel was reduced to ash. The fire, it was believed, started near the roof of the building, from the kitchen chimney. Cinders and soot fell onto the shingles causing the roof to catch fire. There was no shortage of help as people from all over town appeared quickly, ready to offer any assistance they could. But it was quickly apparent that the home was not to be saved. Citizens, as well as the Boy Scouts of Kernersville, worked tirelessly to keep the fire from spreading to nearby properties. In later accounts the Boy Scouts would be praised for their tireless and energetic efforts to keep the blaze from engulfing more properties in town.
The property that the Davis Hotel sat on was eventually divided up among the Davis children. In 1950, the current building was completed. Originally, the building served as the home of the Kernersville Furniture Store, which operated out of the building for many years. Like so many buildings in Kernersville, the interior has undergone many renovations to accommodate new businesses. Today, a Kernersville Brewing Company has retrofitted the space to make it more modern and to fit their needs. Upstairs, Breathe Cocktail Lounge operates on the second floor. And next door, they share a wall with the Eclectic Gift Shop next door. All three businesses are on the same lot that the Davis Hotel once occupied.
*Excerpt from Haunted Kernersville
If you are interested in learning more Kernersville History and the haunted stories of the past or to purchase your copy of Haunted Kernersville, please visit KernersvilleMuseum.org/ShopMuseum. The Museum is open Tuesday through Friday 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and Saturday 10:00 am – 2:00 pm. If you have questions or would like to learn more about The Kernersville Museum call 336-497-4869.