Nov 07

Hotel Upson history

Posted on November 7, 2023 at 2:24 PM by Jamesan Gramme

I was recently asked about the history of Hotel Upson, so I figured why not share it here?
During the 1st February meeting of the Thomaston Kiwanis Club, in the year 1927, a proposal was made to build a grand hotel for Thomaston.
 Shortly thereafter, the Thomaston Hotel Company was formed, composed of R.E. Hightower Sr., then President of Thomaston Cotton Mills, along with his sons, W.H. Hightower, R.E. Hightower, Jr., and Julian Hightower. 
Mr. Hightower agreed to finance the building of a modern hotel if the City of Thomaston would sell $25,000 worth of bonds. By November of the same year, the public had purchased over $30,000 in bonds, in support of the project. Construction began on the site of the old Baptist Church. The building was to be constructed in a Georgian Revival design, and would tower as the tallest structure in downtown. 
Within just 6 months, the hotel was complete! A “Brilliant” opening was held on October 10th, 1928, in which over 400 people attended. The $150,000 hotel was touted to have “every modern convenience and refinement. Its fifty-four rooms all have lavatories with hot and cold water and circulating ice water, telephones, ceiling fans, fully carpeted, and furnished with the most pleasing and comfortable appointments. 33 rooms have a private bath.” Thomaston Times, October 12, 1928.
For decades, the hotel remained a critical commercial and community hub for downtown. A number of businesses were housed there, including a barber shop (possibly Harold Storey’s?), a beauty parlor, and Day Realty. Community events were often held in the ballroom, including hairstyling competitions (pictured), retirement parties, club meetings, local dances, and so much more. 
As a nod to our WWII exhibit, it’s notable to mention that soldiers were bivouacked at the hotel, serving as their temporary quarters during the war. Mrs. Charlotte McDonald Hancock would dress up as Shirley Temple and perform for the soldiers on the rooftop across from the hotel. (Today’s Up on the Square) Additionally, the hotel showed community spirit in planting a Victory Garden in the hotel’s courtyard. 
The hotel also hosted a number of distinguished guests throughout the years, including President Jimmy Carter along with his wife Rosalynn, college coaches Bear Bryant, Vince Dooley, Bobby Dodd, Pat Dye, Hugh Durham, and Erk Russell. Another notable “occupant” was a white boxer bulldog named “Happy” who took up at the hotel in 1959 and stayed + greeted the people of Thomaston for over 11 years.
Though Hotel Upson changed ownership a number of times, it was the Andrews Family who owned and cared for the place the longest. In 1953 John and Hilda Andrews (whose family was originally from Thomaston) moved here from LaGrange to lease and manage the business. In 1957, John purchased the hotel from Howard Dayton for $150,000. Together, the Andrews family ran for Hotel Upson for many years, cementing its status as a crucial mainstay of local history. Unfortunately, on October 1st, 1991, their son Bill had to close the hotel.  
Ownership changed several more times. In 2005, investors eyed rehabilitating the property to turn the upper levels into condominiums and the lower level into retail spaces.
With the building sitting vacant for almost 20 years, the building was deemed to be in disrepair by the Thomaston Historical Preservation Commission. It was demolished in mid-2010, marking the end of a legacy.

Hotel Upson_ca 1930s_From lateral

Hotel Upson Victory Garden-WWII-courtyard

Hotel Upson Beauty Styling ContestHotel Upson-view of courtyard

Oct 11

OW Jones building - a staple to downtown history

Posted on October 11, 2023 at 1:26 PM by Jamesan Gramme

The former Rescue Me / O.W. Jones building has just hit the market! Contact Joni Becerra, Associate Broker/ Century 21 Adams-Harvey for more details. Did you know this staple to Thomaston’s downtown history was (re)built in 1912?
At around 1:00, in the early morning of May 24th, 1912, flames erupted in the south side of the building which housed both the Jones-Adams-Johnston Co. and the W.A. Daniel Drug Store. It is unknown how and where the fire started. The building, which belonged to the estate of the Matthews Family was estimated at a total loss of approximately $40,000. In a much later report documenting the history of O.W. Jones & Son Hardware, Hometown Journal, April 30, 1984, it is said that “in the first few years of business, Mr. O.W. Jones Sr. saw a fire in town. He came to see what it was and realized it was his own store. The only thing left standing was the safe.” 
The firm of Jones-Adams-Johnston Co. took no time to rebuild. One month after the devastation, they purchased the lot from the Matthews estate and quickly set out to reconstruct the store. It was finished quickly, during fall of the same year. 
The other business occupying the space, W.A. Daniel Drug Co. moved a few stores down in the former Forrests Drug Store / aka today’s Little Ones. The massive building next to what was once called “Matthews Corner” was another longtime business to downtown, Weaver Merchandise (later Maxwell’s Dime Store, much later Reem’s Jewelers). They were fortunate to escape the fire of 1912, only to experience another in their building which resulted in a total loss, November 30, 1914. 
Pictured is Mr. Albert Matthews (1st GM for Martha Mills and namesake for Matthews Field) as a young man, in front of his dad R.A. Matthews’s store. This is what the storefront of what later became O.W. Jones looked like, prior to its destruction in 1912.
Notice the gazebo behind him which housed one of the several public wells on the square!

RA Matthews in front of Matthews Mercantile

Dec 13

Pharmacies in Rena's Outlet Building on square

Posted on December 13, 2021 at 4:45 PM by Jamesan Gramme

How does your Christmas list differ from this one published in 1909?!

The now vacant Rena’s Outlet building on the East side of the square has a long history of pharmacies occupying the location, beginning with W.A. Daniel’s Drug Store. 

Dr. W.A. Daniel moved to Thomaston mid-1905 around the same time he purchased the former hardware building at 107 S. Center Street. Over the next 10 years he operated a successful pharmacy which also fell under the Rexall umbrella, a popular chain of drug stores in the early-late 20th century. 

In June of 1915, Mr. Jabe Stamps purchased the drug store, renaming it after himself. After Stamps’s death in early 1925, Mr. Harry Williams bought the business, and once again the store was renamed, this time to Williams Pharmacy. Williams had previously been affiliated with City Drug (located only thee stores down). Thirteen years later, the business was bought out again. The newly named Jacobs Pharmacy opened in March, 1938, and with that the Rexall brand was changed to Walgreens. 

The next sale transformed the pharmacy into one that many should recognize. In June, 1940, Marion Matthews “Red” McClellan purchased Jacobs and renamed it McClellan’s Pharmacy. Mr. McClellan already owned Red’s Pharmacy located in the Ritz building, which opened in 1927. 

Over the next thirty years McClellan’s Pharmacy stood the test of time, until it finally closed sometime in 1970. Mr. McClellan passed away just four years later. His building went through several changes over the following years, including another drug store called Big-C (later moved to a location on N. Center). Today it sits empty as the former Rena’s Outlet. Hopefully another business can fill this space soon!


Thomaston Times, December, 1909.

Daniel Drugs-1915-06-11-Jabe Stamps bought

Thomaston Times, June 11, 1915.

Jabe Stamps Pharmacy bought-1925-02-06-Williams

Thomaston Times, February 6, 1925.

Williams Pharm Bought_1938-02-25

Thomaston Times, February 25, 1938.

McClellans buys Jacobs Pharm_1940-06-27

Thomaston Times, June 27, 1940.