“Near depot, old stand, good trade”: Victoria Hotel in Magnolia

Jackson_Daily_News_Mon__Dec_21__1908_

In 2013 I photographed the former Victoria Hotel in downtown Magnolia, but was able to learn very little about it.  A member of the family who owned it in the early 2000s contacted me recently after finding my blog post on the old Suzassippi’s Lottabusha County Chronicles.  Turns out the reason I could not find out anything about it was the address is different now, and I did not have the historical name of the building.  The Victoria Hotel (aka Magnolia Terrace Bed & Breakfast) is located on the corner of Railroad Avenue across from the depot.

Victoria Hotel c 1990 unknown

Courtesy of Mississippi Department of Archives & History, Historic Resources Inventory. Photo by unknown, c. 1990.

First off, finding it in the MDAH historic resources inventory database answered one of my unanswered questions: Why was there an exposed brick wall on one side of the building?

exposed brick wall

The one-story building may have been present in 1981 in Chadwick’s painting–it is hard to tell because of the design of the panel, but was visible in the c. 1990 photograph, and in a real estate ad in 1998.

According to her obituary in 1918, Mrs. Victoria Webb moved from Liberty to Magnolia and built the Victoria Hotel after the death of her husband, Dr. John Webb.  Dr. Webb was apparently in ill health from 1890 through 1896, when the family made trips to Cooper’s Well for his health.  Mrs. Webb was living in Magnolia by 1900.  She retired from business several years later after marrying David Currie.

Newspaper ads began appearing in 1908 for the hotel, but by 1909, Mrs. Slocum advertised the hotel “for rent.”  She continued to run ads in 1910 as the proprietress. From 1910-1911, Miss Mary Brooke was in charge of the Victoria, but announced she would “take charge of the Excelsior Hotel, on the west side of Railroad avenue” (Jackson Daily News, Jun 27, 1911, p. 3).

Magnolia Terrace front and side

Mrs. R. L. Weathersby of Liberty, MS moved to begin managing the Victoria in 1912 (The Southern Herald, Feb 9, 1912, p. 5) and her husband sold his stock of goods and “expects to move to Magnolia.”  Mrs. Weathersby was still the proprietor in 1919.

Now at this point, the story of who owned what and when gets murky.  According to the 1936 article, the building was owned by Mayor X. A. Kramer of McComb, and managed by Mrs. J. P. McGraw, formerly of Massachusetts.

South since 1925, Mrs. McGraw has come to know and like the south and at the same time likes to call herself a “Yankee.”  However, her “Yankee” acumen for business accounts for her managerial capacity. (Enterprise Journal, Mar 26, 1936, p. 15)

A 1979 article, however, reported the following series of events about the Victoria:

  • In 1934, George Kounovsky purchased the old Victoria Hotel that had been owned by Bob Weathersby, across from the Illinois Central Depot.
  • Kounovsky expanded the business of the antiques by buying the Magnolia Furniture shop from R. L. Fuller.
  • In 1979, Thad Leggett III purchased the Magnolia Antique and Furniture Shop from Mrs. Kounovsky following the death of her husband.  (Enterprise-Journal, Jul 9, 1979, p. 4)

In 1991, the Magnolia Antique shop was owned by Thomas and Shirley Hasselle, who purchased and restored Tanglewood in Pike County.  In 2004, Ruby Pounds was the proprietress of the Magnolia Terrace Bed and Breakfast, a

…10-bedroom inn that includes a kitchenette and bath in each room.  Suites have a dining table and chairs. There is also a formal parlor and a less formal room for watching big screen TV.  (Enterprise-Journal, Jan 25, 2004, p. 19)

But those tracks that run along side the Victoria?  The historic railroad maps do not show any lines other than the ICRR south to Osyka and and north to McComb.  In the Streetcars series, mention is made of a proposed streetcar line from McComb to Magnolia, but it was never completed due to the advent of World War I.  Given that it is highly unlikely that the tracks were laid after the one-story building was demolished sometime after 1998, one could assume the one-story building was added on top of the old tracks, which were likely a spur leading to some type of loading warehouse.  The building at the far rear of the hotel appears a likely warehouse, and the word “warehouse” appeared in ads for the Magnolia Antiques after 1991.  In the realm of possibility, the tracks could have been laid if the proprietors were utilizing the train to ship antiques to and from Magnolia.

Leave a comment if you have additional information about the Victoria, the Magnolia Antique business, or that little bit of track.



Categories: Historic Preservation, Hotels, Magnolia

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18 replies

  1. i haven’t been to magnoila in many years, and this post brought back memories of frequent trips there to visit the antiques shop, a treasure trove of ‘stuff’ in its heyday. i am sorry that the neighboring structure has been demolished, and, those railroad tracks? i don’t suspect they had anything to do with the antiques business but predate the demolished structure.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Are we sure there was never a streetcar in Magnolia? Because those look too narrow for railroad tracks even for some older strange gauge.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. In this photo of the Magnolia Depot there appears to be a rail line running parallel to the main line and being of narrower gauge.

    http://www.msrailroads.com/Towns/Magnolia.htm

    Liked by 1 person

    • I looked into that McComb to Magnolia streetcar. Just as was surmised it had to be scrapped because of WWI. Sad too because the McComb and Magnolia Light and Railway Company had secured funding and right of ways, bought many materials, and had installed most of the poles when they had to stop construction. They tried to revive the project in 1920, but it was dead by 1922 and the company was sold to MP&L by 1927. Somewhere it was mentioned that it was owned by the same group that owned the Laurel Light and Railway Co.

      This does not mean, though, that they hadn’t yet laid some track (nowhere stated) or that Magnolia never had its own small streetcar, however unlikely that sounds.

      I found another photo of that building next to the hotel which included signs for feed and True Value Hardware. If that was the Magnolia Feed and Seed (which was on Railway Ave), it was at one time (maybe the time in the photo) in a building that had previously been a wholesale grocer, the Coney Co.

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  4. Could the wider gauge rails be part of Lincoln’s old New Orleans, Jackson and Great Northern RR which is of 5 ft. Gauge? From the photo, that rail line doesn’t appear to have been maintained, indicating that it was abandoned after it merged with the standard gauge rail road lines(4ft, 8-1/2 inches) following the War.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Orleans,_Jackson_and_Great_Northern

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  5. But the wider rail gauge rails appear to show wear, not so the narrower gauge.

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    • I think those parallel tracks only appear to differ in width because of the perspective.

      As you can see from these maps from 1898, it was only a switch line: https://www.loc.gov/collections/sanborn-maps/?fa=location:mississippi%7Clocation:pike+county

      In the inset on p. 2 of the Magnolia sheets is the A.B. Hubbard Planing Mill which has its own tramway. It is not located where our hotel is, but I think that is probably the sort of structure we’re talking about, though I don’t rule out that maybe that was supposed to be the terminus for the Magnolia end of the light railway to McComb …

      The address sure has changed! It’s listed at 160 East Railroad Ave. in the Historic Resources Inventory. On the 1898 map it will eventually be 119-121, I think? I wonder if one of those buildings from 117-120 from 1898 is where the tracks ended up existing? Here is the photo with the True Value Hardware and Magnolia Feed and Seed store that had possibly been previously the location of one iteration of Coney’s wholesale grocery business; this publication is ca. 1976: https://nigble.wordpress.com/misc-unrelated/

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, my, this changes everything! Thanks so much for the additional detail, Carunzel. One thing that definitely threw me off in my first post about the building was the change of address, along with name of hotel. Thank goodness they took they section of the enclosed porch back off!

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        • It’s horrible, isn’t it? (Also, I apologize for the quality of the photos.) It doesn’t help to illuminate whatever balconette was there that those beautiful brackets supported either.

          Perhaps someone with access to later Sanborn maps could check what that building next door became.

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  6. I looked at a lot of information on the railroad line through Magnolia, and ultimately excluded it as it did not seem relevant to the time period. For quite some while, the train did not stop there.

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  7. The wider gauge rail line seen in the 1970 Mississippi Rails photo no longer exists. What is the gauge of the in-town rail spur? It does not appear to be standard gauge in the photo .

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  8. You mean the feed store/whatever store? A vacant lot. Otherwise, illuminate me as to which building you mean. I love that the Sanborn maps show the building itself much clearer.

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