Shelby Hotel

The Shelby HotelThe Dennemora Hotel was built in 1863 during the height of the Civil War. The two-story hotel was located next to the Shelby Iron Works, which had access to a natural spring, made it a popular tourist destination. During the Civil War, the Iron Works supplied the Confederate navy with pig iron for their ironclad vessels. The hotel was a popular weekend destination for the public, but it was also used by the employees of the Iron Works as a boarding house.

Shelby HotelThe Union Army destroyed the Iron Works in a raid in 1865. The hotel survived only to burn down in 1898. By that time, the Iron Works were reopened and capitalizing on the growing industrial demand. The owners rebuilt the hotel in 1900 on the original brick foundation. The hotel was called the New Dennemora Hotel and was later renamed the Shelby Hotel.

Shelby Hotel

Shelby HotelThe Shelby Hotel served the community at a time when the iron industry was at its peak. It was the first hotel in the state of Alabama with electricity and internal plumbing. No other hotel in the area had that at that time.

Shelby HotelThe Shelby Hotel required advanced reservations for accommodations. The hotel has fifteen bedrooms, a dining wing, an office, a kitchen, and two bathrooms. A rear addition was accessible from the back staircase, leading to another wing with thirty rooms where most of the iron workers stayed. The addition was torn down after the Shelby Iron Company closed in 1923.

Shelby HotelThe “Honeymoon Room” and the “Company Room” upstairs have been used by two governors and their wives. Famous guests of the Shelby Hotel include Teddy Roosevelt and Al Capone. It cost $25.00 a month for a room and three meals a day.

Shelby HotelIn 1925, the rooms had beds, sinks, and dressers. The rooms were often cold, as fireplaces provided the only heat for some of the rooms. There were wood stoves that heated the new addition, which was built to accommodate more boarders.

Shelby HotelThe Shelby Hotel is often confused with the nearby Shelby Springs Hotel, which became a Confederate hospital after the seize of Vicksburg. Compared to other nearby hotels, the Shelby Hotel offered a more simplistic getaway. There was no ballroom or string band like you may find at other resorts.

Shelby HotelGuests of the Shelby Hotel were treated to spring water, tennis, and games of bridge. Before shutting down in the 1970s, the Shelby Hotel was the oldest operating hotel in Alabama.

Shelby Hotel

Shelby Hotel

Shelby HotelLocals tell stories about the hotel being haunted by a former caretaker and her husband; who would walk the hallways and check on guests. The Shelby Hotel remains abandoned with no current plans for renovation.

Shelby Hotel


24 Replies to “Shelby Hotel”

  1. I think they should restore the old hotel, as it was back in its glory days. And open it back up as a hotel, again. And yes, I would stay.
    I believe that people would come from afar to stay and see what it would have been like to have lived in that erea.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I went in the hotel as a teenager, I am now 75 years old….go figure. Old Man Rommel ( my mother’s words) lived there taking care of his wife. It is a shame it can’t be restored…….

    Liked by 1 person

  3. They looked into opening it up as a bed snd breakfast but the water would not perk on the land without costing a fortune. We looked into buying the old place and making a home there but owners would not respond to calls. We were told that they inherited the property. I lived in shelby in my childhood and played in the hotel when it was still open. It was a beautiful place with major charm. I wanted to own it so much

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Some of your facts are wrong. I am the great granddaughter of the owners and grew up at the hotel after my aunt and uncle took it over for great grandfather. The hotel burned that’s what happened to the addition to the hotel when restored after fire they didn’t put the L-shape back on. And also facts are wrong about people that stayed there. Its nice that it’s being shown and other people can see the beauty in her as I always have. I have the desk that sat in the office of the hotel and we have all of my aunt’s journals of her day to day life at the hotel. They are amazing to read.


  5. I visited the hotel as a junior in High School. Grew up in Calera. Best friend did a paper on the hotel and the ole man living there. He was a storyteller. My friend gave his paper and my photography to the Columbiana library if my memory serves me. One story; as we were being shown and introduced to the hotel, we enter the dining room where I noticed the oak ladder back chairs. Someone had sawed off the right hand post of every one. He told us a slave while serving a guest from the right side of the chair caught his flowing white sleeve on the post. The results were so memorable… someone snuck in and cut them all off. The name Rommel sounds right, I think 🤔


  6. My grandparents lived less than a block from there when I was young ( 70’s). I remember Vernon Rommel, a true gentleman who loved to tell stories. Mr Robert Brasher ( principal and teacher at Shelby Elementary) took us there on a field trip once. My Cousins’s and I would often sneak in and play during the summer. I was always terrified because my older kin would tell me it was haunted, although I never saw any sign of it. So much history in the Shelby Hotel and the “Ore Mines”. A part of my childhood that will never be forgotten. I do hope someone will take on the restoration project before it’s too late.


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