Photographers and Georgia Hotels, an Interesting Connection

Ryan, D.J. stereo Screven House 1887 detail

Detail of a stereo view made by D. J. Ryan, Savannah, of the Screven House (hotel), 1887; collection of E. Lee Eltzroth

When some of us travel to visit family or friends, we often stay in hotels or motels. With the recent holidays in mind, I decided this was a good time to tell you a little about how connected some of the Georgia photographers I’ve researched were to the hotel business. Certainly many of them photographed various hotels across the state, and some even worked as photographers out of hotels, but others actually got into the hotel business.

Daguerreotypist, John H. Bushnell (often as John Bushnell, M.D.), advertised as a daguerreotypist in Athens, Georgia, as of April 1848. He ran Bushnell’s Sky-Light Daguerrean [sic] Gallery, until about the time he became the proprietor of the Newton House hotel.  On March 6, 1851, an advertisement ran in the Southern Banner recording the fact that he was now the proprietor. Bushnell stopped advertising as a daguerreian in Athens about the same time. He apparently managed the Newton House through October of that year, so about nine months.

The Newton House  was built by E.L. Newton at the corner of Broad and College streets and afterward it became known as the Commercial Hotel, and was renamed the Colonial Hotel, then the Cherokee Hotel. It is the same building that those of you who live or lived in Athens, or attended the University of Georgia, may recall as housing The Varsity from 1932 until it closed in 1978.

Photo historians Floyd and Marion Rinhart, in their book Victorian Florida, noted this man as possibly the same Mr. Bushnell who operated the Florida House hotel in St. Augustine, Florida, in July 1851. Bushnell did travel between Georgia and Florida during his  career as a daguerreotypist, but it is improbable that this Bushnell is the one associated with the St. Augustine hotel, as he is noted in Athens at that time. It is likely, however, that the Dr. J. H. Bushnell working in Georgia and Florida is the J. H. [John Horchunson] Bushnell born in Ohio in 1815, who worked as a physician in Washington D.C., by 1870, and died there in 1896.

From 1880 to 1883, photographer O. P. (Oscar Pierre) Havens (born 1837 in New York; died 1912 in Jacksonville, Florida), in addition to continuing his work as a photographer in Savannah, Georgia, was in business with James H. Furber, a confectioner, as Havens & Furber. They were the proprietors of the Screven House Hotel (see the image above), located on Congress St., at the corner of Bull St., at Johnson Square. Both Havens and Furber also lived in the Screven House. According to the Havens & Furber advertisement for the Screven House in the 1883 Savannah city directory [in the back of the volume], that hotel had the only passenger elevator in the city. It also tells us that Mr. Havens suppervised The Table, which means the food served. The duo’s partnership lasted only about three years. The Screven House Hotel was demolished in 1911.

Havens was working in Florida by 1887, where he became a more prominent photographer than he had been in either New York or Georgia. In 1895, he was employed by the Central of Georgia Railroad to make photographs for their upcoming publication, Fruits of Industry: Points and Pictures Along the Central Railroad of Georgia (by Pleasant Alexander Stovall, with photographs by O.P. Havens). Some of those images were also used in the 1903 Central of Georgia Railway Guide. Photographs Havens made for the books include the National Cemetery at Andersonville, Georgia, and buildings and sites in the cities Columbus and Fort Valley, Georgia.

Earlier in his Georgia career, O.P. Havens and Savannah photographer  J. N. Wilson (1827-1897) announced their copartnership in the Savannah Morning News, November 24, 1874, and the dissolution of that partnership in the same newspaper, on January 24, 1876. In Savannah, Havens often advertised himself as “Wilson’s successor,” and “formerly Wilson & Havens,” on his photo back marks. J. H. Wilson and D.J. Ryan both photographed the Screven House at different times, and many of those stereographs are in the collection of the New York Public Library. The image you see below is a detail of Wilson’s stereo view of another Savannah hotel, the Pulaski House.

Wilson, J.N. Stereo Pulaski Hse Closeup

Detail of a stereo view of the Pulaski House, Savannah, made by J. N. Wilson, 1884; collection of E. Lee Eltzroth

Others who ran hotels include prominent Georgia photographer A. J. (Andrew Jackson) Riddle (1829-1897). By the end of January 1872, his advertisements in Macon, Georgia, already ended with the line “Riddle’s Galleries Macon, Ga., and Eufaula, Ala.,” and he finally moved from Macon to Eufaula, not far from the Georgia state line, in April 1872. For some months after his move, he continued coming to various Georgia cities to work, including Cuthbert in September and October 1872.

He was certainly running Eufaula’s Commercial Hotel as a co-proprietor with William Smitha, by 1875, when History of Eufaula, Alabama, the Bluff City of the Chattahoochee, was published. The compiler, J. A. B. Besson, referred to Riddle as the Broad Street hotel’s “genial, clever and sociable landlord” with whom visitors “are delighted, and are loth [sic] to part [with]….”  The back advertisement for the Commercial Hotel in the book states that

“Mr. A. J. Riddle (one of the proprietors) …. known in the South for the last twenty years as a distinguished Photographer, has by his artistic taste, added very much in improving the house and making it attractive.”

The hotel not only (apparently) housed his photo studio, but also a Dining Room, a barbershop (M. J. Konski’s),  and “two elegant novelty billiard tables —- for those who are fond of the game.” They also offered a free omnibus ride to and from the train depot and the steamboat dock.

It appears that A. J. Riddle had financial problems in 1877-1878, and he was forced to sell some of his Macon property in order to pay his 1877 taxes. He likely resigned or lost his position with the Commercial hotel within months after that. By the end of August 1879, he was back in Georgia and had reopened his Columbus studio. He first opened that studio in July 1852, and operated it until July 1860. After that date, although he sometimes visited, other photographers operated his studio until his return in the fall of 1879.

Bedingfield Inn Lumpkin, GA

Known as Harrel House, then the Cuba House, then Ard House, this house was built in 1836 by the town’s first physician, Bryan Bedingfield. The home became a stage stop and was a hotel until the 1930’s. It is on the National Register of Historic Places (NRIS #73000643); photograph by George Lansing Taylor Jr., University of N. FL Digital Commons

A. J. Riddle died in Columbus, Georgia in 1897, and was buried in the family plot in Macon. Some of his obituaries mention that before the war (ca.1861), he ran the Cuba House (hotel) in Lumpkin, Georgia. The obituaries also tell us that is where his mother died at the age of ninety-nine.

Ann Elizabeth (Hunley) Riddle (1837-1927), his wife, and at times his photo artist, ran Columbus’s Hotel Riddle by 1886, along with a son, George. She retired from running the hotel in 1892, and George continued running it as the Vernon Hotel. George was later “in the hotel business” in Chicago, where he managed the Auditorium Hotel, and where he died in 1918.

T. J. (Theophilus Jerome) Fairfield (ca. 1845-1915), and his wife Mattie were the proprietors of the Grant Hotel, also known as Hotel Grant, at 86 1/2 Whitehall Street, Atlanta. The Fairfields had moved to Atlanta in 1899, and T.J. Fairfield was listed as a photographer in the Atlanta city directory that year. Younger son Edward [William E.] Fairfield (b. about 1877) was already there working as a photographer, likely working for his brother-in-law C.F. McDannell (ca. 1867-1916), in Atlanta since 1897, and married to his sister Julia (b. 1869). Older son James A. Fairfield was to go back into business with McDannell, with whom he briefly had partnered in Milledgeville (McDannell & Fairfield, 1897), but James (b. 1873) died in early May 1899, within months after his arrival. McDannell sold their gallery and changed Whitehall Street locations.

T.J. Fairfield and his wife were co-proprietors of the Grant hotel from 1900 until Mattie Fairfield’s death at there in August 1905. Fairfield continued as proprietor through 1906, with his son William E. as manager. By 1907, William E. was the proprietor although his father was still a hotel resident through 1908. The 1909 city directory lists T. J. Fairfield as “moved to Washington, D.C.” and the next year as “moved to Norfolk, Virginia.” By 1910 he had remarried and when the 1910 census was taken, he was again in Atlanta working as a photographer, living with and probably working for, his son-in-law C.F. McDannell.

Fairfield was a partner to McDannel, in Milledgeville, Georgia, as Fairfield & McDannell, in 1888. Fairfield worked as a photographer in Milledgeville for over twenty years, from about 1873 to 1898, and he married the sister of another Milledgeville photographer, James F. Wilson, who was also once his partner (Fairfield & Wilson, 1881-84). T. J. Fairfield and his son James worked together as Fairfield and Son, 1890-1896, but the business was sold and James moved to Atlanta. His parents moved there soon after.

A few other photographers are known to have had something to do with hotel work. G. T. (Giles Theophilus) Williams (1841-1887), a well-known Columbus photographer from 1854 to September 1886, over thirty years, began his career at age fifteen as A. J. Riddle’s assistant. In October 1886, he moved, “for his health,” to Gainesville, Florida. Perhaps not working at all was no cure, and he became the proprietor of Gainesville’s Commercial Hotel. He died there in July 1887, and was buried in Florida.

J.G. (John Gregory) Bowden (1878-1934) was a working photographer in both Atlanta (1902-1909) and in Athens. (1910-1926). In Athens he was involved in two studios — his own, Bowden’s Studio, located at 164 1/2 East Clayton Street, and in 1914 and 1915, also the Broadway Studio, on East Broad. For this brief period he moved his studio from East Clayton to College Avenue.

Bowden was also involved in two hotels. First he was associated with the Holland Hotel, where, by 1914, his wife Bessie ran the Holland Café. They were living at the hotel, but they declared bankruptcy on the Holland Hotel in October 1917. Within a year Bowden was managing the Majestic Hotel, which he continued for several years. By 1930, according to the census, Bowden was out of the hotel business. Unfortunately he did not return to photography,  but instead became a salesman and “commercial traveler’ working out of Athens.

The only woman other than Ann Riddle that I have documented as involved in the business of photography and hotels, is Atlanta’s Lula Chisolm (b. ca. 1886 in Georgia). According to the census and Atlanta city directories, in 1910 Chisolm, an African American, was a photo printer working at C.F. McDannell’s studio (see data on him above). That same year she was boarding at the home of Paul Pool (1880 – about 1954), who also worked at the time for photographer McDannell, and his mother, Cora.

According to the census of 1920, she was by then living in Boston with her sister and brother-in-law and working in a hotel as a waitress. Paul Poole, who later became well-known for his photographic portraits of Atlanta’s middle-class African American community, worked in Atlanta to 1947.

Photographers who are known to have made images of Georgia hotels include H.W. Brown, of Tifton, about whom I have written this past year. Here is his 1907 postcard view of Tifton’s Myron Hotel.

Brown, H.W., Tifton Hotel Myon detail RPPC

Hotel Myron, 1907, Tifton, detail of a real photo post card made by H. W. Brown; collection of E. Lee Eltzroth

The Library of Congress (LC) holds an image of Atlanta’s Piedmont Hotel (LC neg #LC-USZ62-104226) which appeared in Lester Book and Stationery Co. publication, Souvenir of Atlanta, Georgia (1908) with photogravures made by The Albertype Company. The Lester Stationery Company was in business in Atlanta for several years, publishing books and postcards.

There are also photographers whose names we do not know who captured images of hotels in Georgia, like this snapshot of the Grand Central Hotel in Waycross, made about 1892.


The Grand Central Hotel, Waycross, GA; Kodak number 2 snapshot by an unidentified photographer; collection of E. Lee Eltzroth

I hope you find it as interesting as I do that Georgia photographers involved themselves with hotels. In my next post I will share some information I gathered from various places that you may be able to use in your own hunting and gathering research projects.

© E. Lee Eltzroth and Hunting & Gathering, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, without written permission from this blog’s author is prohibited. The piece can be re-blogged, and excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to E. Lee Eltzroth and Hunting & Gathering, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.




  1. Until I read this post, I never though about possible connections between photography and the hotel business. But it makes sense. People often think about getting photos taken when on vacation.

    1. I was surprised to find this connection, too, but it became apparent several photographers had this connection and I soon had enough info to do a post!

  2. This was interesting! Now I need to pull out my great grandmother’s photos and see who the photographer was!!

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