Remnants of bustling Shelby

A Shelby County historic treasure&8212;the Shelby Hotel&8212; patiently awaits restoration or the onslaught of a wrecking ball.

The old hotel has stood empty and lonely for more than 25 years. It holds proud memories, and perhaps many secrets, from a past when its halls were filled with jostling families and enthusiastic guests.

According to records found in the Shelby County Museum & Archives, the hotel was built in 1900 as The New Dannemora. It was said to have been the first hotel in the State to have running water and electric lights.

The building is a two-story wood frame structure with a small wing at the left rear. The foundation boasts slave-made bricks, rescued from older burned buildings. There is a central hallway running the complete depth of the structure, a large dining room, a kitchen, 15 bedrooms and one bathroom on each floor.

On the same property, there are two other significant buildings. The wood framed, tin-roofed building at the back was the old Shelby Post Office and a barber shop. To the right of the hotel, there is a weather-worn, two-story frame house that was once an office for the iron ore mining company.

In its heyday, the hotel graciously served as the vortex of a thriving community. Shelby is reported to have been a boisterous industrial iron ore mining town of some 3,000 people. There were daily trains and many notable visitors. John Draper III, in an article written for the Shelby News-Monitor in 1976, quoted then-owner, Bernard. Rummel, &8220;Mr. Teddy Roosevelt spent the night right here in this very hotel.&8221; Mr. Rummel was the last of the owners who resided in the hotel. He described celebrations, parties, and most often talked about the wonderful food, cooked and served by his wife and earlier cooks. It is said that folks arriving on the trains made a beeline to the hotel for the wonderful food and that no one, whether or not they could pay, went away hungry.

The hotel is located on Highway 42 in Shelby, across the street from the Shelby Ironworks Park.

John Brasher, President of the Park Association recently remarked, &8220;There is so much history here, and we have lost many of the very valuable historic structures. I, personally, and we as a group are extremely distressed at the prospect of losing the hotel to deterioration. The Waite family, who owns the property, expects to restore it, and we will do everything we can to help make that happen.&8221;

More very interesting information about the history of the hotel and about the town of Shelby can be found at http://www.rootsweb.com/ ~alshelby/shelby.html and at www.shelbyironworks.com