Looking back: Stonewall Inn reopens; Rawls reports for duty

Published 10:50 am Friday, July 20, 2018

by Clyde Parker

July 12, 1918

This picture postcard shows the Stonewall Inn after it was renovated and expanded on in the summer of 1918. The original place had caught fire in December 1917. The hostelry featured running water, individual phones in guestrooms and new and improved electric lighting features, as well as new furnishings. — Courtesy | Stan Rich Collection

Franklin’s famous hostelry, the Stonewall Inn, the loss of which by fire last December has proved a serious handicap to the town for the past six months, reopened its doors this week. Thoroughly rebuilt and renovated from top to bottom, it is now open for occupancy. The proprietor, Mr. R.H.B. Cobb, has had a force of workmen busy for the past four months. The Inn is attractive and inviting today in its new dress; many features, designed for the comfort and convenience of the guests, have been added.

Mr. Cobb has had running water installed in every room in the building; and, in addition to the several suites with private baths, two suites have been equipped with showers.

There are individual telephones in each guestroom. New and improved electric lighting fixtures were installed this week. The furnishings in each guestroom are all new, purchased by Mr. Cobb with a special view to the convenience of traveling men. A chifforobe, a combination of wardrobe and dresser, is in each guestroom. A center table, with a pull-out writing desk arrangement, is in each room. The chifforobes and center tables are made of fumed oak. The beds are of massive construction and are equipped with luxurious mattresses. Handsome new drugget floor coverings have been placed in each room.

This picture postcard shows the original Stonewall Inn, which was built in 1909.

The former poolroom has been converted into a large drummers’ samples room where traveling salesmen may display their wares.

The interior painting and decoration present a most pleasing color scheme and atmosphere.

Mr. Cobb has had oversight of all the work done. The carpentry work was  done by J.A. Gay; plastering by W.E. Councill; plumbing and tinning by W.T. Pace Inc.; painting by G.M. Whitley; and electrical wiring and fixtures by G.A. Sanderford.

Mr. Cobb added a substantial annex to the original building, using massive stone blocks, produced at the site, for immediate erection. The annex is three-stories in height and is of the same architectural design as the original building. The annex will contain, on the first floor, a lunchroom, a poolroom, and a barbershop. The second and third floor additions will carry twenty guest rooms. A sun parlor will connect the original building with the annex. The annex is placed on the south side of the Inn and fronts toward Main Street. When completed, the new Stonewall will more than eclipse its already excellent reputation throughout the South as the best small town hotel on the Atlantic Coast.

Franklin boys go to war

RAWLS TO FRANCE — Sol Waite Rawls left Franklin Wednesday afternoon for Philadelphia where he will report for duty as chief machinist mate for ground aviation with the United States Navy. He expects to sail in about two weeks for France. Mr. Rawls volunteered on July 5. He is the first married man in the county to go into volunteer service.

He is the son of Mr. Robert Rawls of Nansemond County, a brave and loyal Confederate soldier. Those who know our young townsman well, and are acquainted with his skill as a machinist and automobile driver, do not expect him to be content with ground aviation after he reaches France, although the assignment which he has been given is one of the most important in the aviation service.

Mr. Rawls leaves the business of Rawls’ Garage on Fourth Avenue, which is one of our town’s most flourishing industries, under the management of J.A. Johnson. Mrs. Rawls, the former Rowena Savage Camp, will make her home with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. James L. Camp Sr. during her husband’s absence

Camp to M.I.T. — In the meantime, James L. Camp Jr., son of Mrs. and Mrs. J.L. Camp of Franklin, has passed the naval aviation examination board, standing the examinations at Washington, D.C., last week. He has been ordered to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in Boston, for training. Mr. Camp makes the fourth Franklin boy to enter aviation and he may be expected to win his wings in a short while and be in active service with our air forces of the sea.

He has been connected with the cantonment division of the Quartermaster’s Corps, for several months, with headquarters in Washington, D.C. His marriage on May 22 to Miss Mary Clay of Selma, Alabama was an interesting event for their many friends in Alabama and Virginia. Mr. and Mrs. Camp have been making their home in Washington.

Holland is in France — Mrs. Sallie Holland of the South Quay community just received an interesting letter from her son, Corporal Lawrence Holland, now in France with the American Expeditionary Forces. Lawrence was among the first of the selective draft registrants to leave Southampton. His many friends throughout the county will be glad to know that he is doing so well and is rising in the ranks.

Corporal Holland is one of the may gallant Franklin boys now in service with the “Stars and Stripes” overseas and we believe that he will “hit the Hun” with the same vim and zeal which he used to show on the Franklin baseball team.

Brownley to Charleston — George D. Brownley, as landsman for machinist’s mate, goes to Charleston, S. C. for training, in about 10 days, expecting to be sent overseas from the training camp.

CLYDE PARKER is a retired human resources manager for the former Franklin Equipment Co. and a member of the Southampton County Historical Society. His email address is magnolia101@charter.net