In this historical series, "Early Summers", I'll be sharing past attractions and travel destinations of the Mobile Bay this summer. Today, I have a few of the magnificent places tourists would lay their heads, right here in Daphne, Alabama! If you have any info on other attractions from the area, past or present, don't be shy! Send them my way: firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome to Hollywood!
1105 Captain O’Neal Drive
Olde Towne Daphne, Alabama
A primary stop for steamers in the early 1800’s, The Hollywood Hotel in Daphne, Alabama was also a luxurious resort for travelers. The hotel was built and ran by Willard Freeman of Daphne and his wife who migrated here from New York. The eastbound steamboats would glide locals and snowbirds across Mobile Bay to the long dock that welcomed folks into Daphne. They would then walk the long boardwalk known as Freeman’s Wharf, enjoying the picturesque sights of the Eastern Shore before they reached the inviting porch of the Hollywood. When they were ready to leave, a stagecoach could take them all the way to Pensacola by way of The Old Spanish Trail. The hotel was such a staple int the community, tourists referred to the entire area as “Hollywood” instead of Daphne, as the hotel sat on 46 acres of bayfront oasis. The hotel ceased operations after 1854. By 1867, the hotel was being used as a schoolhouse until Yellow Fever took its toll on Baldwin County. The hotel sat vacant once more in 1873 until it was taken in a devastating fire.
Learning at the Famous Howard Hotel
303 Dryer Avenue
Olde Towne Daphne, Alabama
The Howard Hotel is now Bayside Academy in Daphne, Alabama. People actually go to school here today. This beautiful 100 acre getaway was built in 1833 by the Howard’s, whose matriarch is credited with naming this city “Daphne.” The Howard’s were known as Uncle Billy and Aunt Betty, and it is said that they took care of their guests as if they were all family. If guests ever complained about their stay, however, the traveler was promptly given a boat schedule and a report of current road conditions. The Entertainment was never lacking in the halls of this resort. traveling musicians across the south came here to play and network since some bigger names from New Orleans would move to the Eastern Shore for the summers in fear of catching Yellow Fever back home. The plague eventually swept through this getaway town as well. Cannonballs made their way through the walls of the hotel during the Battle of Mobile Bay in 1864, but Uncle Billy took care of his own. He quickly built troughs close to the hotel to ensure folks had access to the fresh water, and even sold some to keep money coming into the area during wartimes.
Come On In, Short’s Got Room
Captain O’Neale Drive
Olde Towne, Daphne Alabama
The newspaper article read, on Monday, October 14, 1867: “Eastern Shore, being prepared to accommodate those who wish to spend summer ‘over the bay,’ I would inform the public that my house is now open for the reception of visitors. Thomas Short.” Short’s home was equipped with a pier fastened with carts. These carts had sails on top of them to transition goods from land to water travel. Operating next to the Hollywood, this hotel stayed in operation after Mr. Short’s untimely death in 1870, being run by his wife until fire consumed it along with its neighbor resort.