This week in local history

The following events occurred during the week of March 18-24 in Bell County.

1895: The elegant Four Seasons Hotel in Cumberland Gap (site of LMU) was sold for $28,000. The huge hotel, said to have had 700 rooms, cost $700,000 to build just four years earlier.

1998: The smallpox epidemic was coming under control with 93 smallpox patients in the hospital that had been set up in the plant of the South Boston Gun Works in west end and only 9 new cases in a week. Ever anxious to put the best face on things, the newspaper stated that, “outside of smallpox, this is the healthiest town on the globe, there being only three cases of all other kinds of sickness reported.”

1905: James Burdette, Rev. E. P. Mayes and Frank Embry bought the building on the corner of Winchester and 21st Street for use as a Black Masonic Hall.

1910: The president of Excelsior Coal Company was stabbed by a “cocaine-crazed man.” The newspaper stated that, “It is strongly charged cocaine is being sold in the city. Those selling it are as guilty as the man doing the crazed act.”

1921: The Cumberland Hotel on the corner of 18th and Cumberland Avenue was destroyed by fire. It had been erected in 1889 by Zan Tribble and had had several additions. (The next year a new Cumberland Hotel was built and served the city through the 1960s.)

1926: Woolworth Dime Store opened in the Vail Block (on Cumberland near 20th) with the claim, “Our Highest Price: 10 cents.” For that amount, one could buy a 10 gallon galvanized pail, a large Turkish towel or a set of children’s bloomers.

1929: The worse flood in Middlesboro’s history covered the entire business district and a large residential area. Five hundred houses suffered severe damage and four bridges were washed away plus the bridge at 24th and Cumberland sustained substantial damage.

1948: Frank “Big Dog” Jacobs opened a short order restaurant in the alley between Cumberland Ave. and Lothbury in back of the Empire Hotel. He offered hot dogs, hamburgers, barbecue and fried baloney sandwiches with onions and peppers.

1955: The Little Theatre had a total of 450 members. They were rehearing “Strange Bedfellows” under the leadership of Mrs. Kirby Smith, Jr.