The Clement Hotel of c. 1879 vintage now sits proudly restored in New Edinburg, Arkansas. The restoration came not a minute too soon. The old structure was in bad shape and not getting any better. It was going downhill fast, until some intrepid restorers took charge.
Sunday, January 27, 2013
A U T H O R ' S N O T E :
The Clement Hotel in New Edinburg, Arkansas, was on its last legs in 2006. The fat lady had not yet sung, but she was warming up in the wings. The point of no return was eminent and the clock was ticking.
Enter Willie Carroll Livingston, now of Dallas, Texas, formerly of New Edinburg, and his wife. They bought the aging structure with the idea of restoring it to its former glory. And that they did. With the exception of the roof, they did it all with their own hands, too. Due to the inherent danger of installing a high-pitch roof on a two-story building, they wisely contracted with a roofer to do that deed.
By most authorities, the Clement was completed circa 1879 and was operated as a hotel until the neighborhood of 1905-06. It sat vacant until the early thirties when the Stewart family of New Edinburg bought the structure and converted it to their residence. Stewart family members lived in the house until the early eighties. By then, the house was well into serious deterioration.
The last resident was Mattie Stewart Sloane, a school teacher and store keeper. She was evacuated by her nephew, who moved her to a safer environment. The festering deterioration continued unabated until the Livingstons arrived on the scene.
The Clement Hotel from the backyard. All of the one-story structures were add-ons to the original building, which had a breezeway. Originally, the house abutted the road you see in the background. In the thirties, a local crew jacked up the structure and moved it to this location.
The restored house sits well away from Arkansas Highway 8, aka "Main Street, New Edinburg." It was not always that far from the road. Originally, the front porch steps were just about in the right-of-way. The Stewarts apparently were not too crazy about the location (who would be?), so they made arrangements to move the old hotel, now their home, a more respectable distance away from the highway.
James C. Boney, the de-facto historian for New Edinburg, tells of the moving. "A local crew of men, including my grandfather, jacked up the house, lowered it onto logs, and rolled it back to where it is today," he reported.
The Livingstons had long been interested in acquiring the closed store next door to the hotel. Just recently, the deal was done. On the day of these pictures, the Stewarts, who are relatives of the sellers, were removing all that was not nailed down from the premises in preparation to handing the keys to the Livingstons. It is said that the Livingstons are interested in giving the store a facelift similar to what they did for the hotel.
We should all be grateful to folks like the Livingstons. By preserving historic structures, they help us remember where we came from — memories that may jolt us into recalling a few mistakes we made along the way. The Clement Hotel, besides being eye-candy, serves that noble purpose.
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MORE STORE PICTURES
Most of the time, there is more to the Photo of the Week story than can be told in an essay. And most of the time there are more pictures to be seen. Presuming that some folk will enjoy being privy to this trove of information, I have created a blog, “Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind,” where I am showing and telling “the rest of the story." There are also some blatantly commercial mentions of some of the things we do to earn our beans and taters. Click on the Weekly Grist logo and go to the blog. — J. D.