Our building’s history starts in the 1800’s, the actual date is unknown. The downstairs housed a dry goods store, while the upstairs was a bit more scandalous with a saloon and brothel.
In 1922 the building was destroyed by a structure fire. Being a total loss, they leveled the building and built the existing structure in the same location. With Quitman being the county seat and thriving oil community, a hotel was needed. The hotel only had 9 rooms and a communal bathroom at the end of the hall. Since this was taking place during the prohibition period in American history, it is not surprise that there was a Speakeasy hidden in the northeast corner of the hotel, room number 7 to be exact. During our renovations, whiskey bottles were recovered from that era, tucked in the base boards of the hotel room as well as the men’s bathroom. Legion has it the infamous Bonnie and Clyde came up to enjoy the party when they passed through town during their glory days.
Then, during the late 1940’s into the early 1950’s, the upstairs space was used by Cain’s Funeral Home. When we purchased the building there were still several items from that time. From old burial policies to casket displays to the coffin dollies that were placed on the stairs to help move the casket’s upstairs. Those were repurposed to hold our lights above the stairway. In that period of time, the function of the funeral homes was different than what we see today. It was a business that sold burial items like coffins and headstones. Preparation work was performed there, but viewings and services were held at homes and churches.
In the late 50’s and early 60’s a gentleman by the name of Johnny “Frank” Smart, established a small office in the Northeast corner of the second floor. Frank was a writer and published a Gossip paper that is said to have consistently sold more copies than the Wood County Democrat. There is not a lot of documented history about Frank or his paper. We have gathered some information that leads us to believe that the spirit of the speakeasy, the office space that he occupied, may have had a firm grasp on Frank. The name of Frank’s paper was The Tattler.