City Directories and History: The Robbins – White Tour History states, “Then, still going east, we have next door to the Belk’s lot the lot whereon stood the famous Gordon’s Hotel, or the Gordon House, owned and operated by David Gordon, an Irish immigrant. In all the early records Gordon’s Hotel was specified as “the geographical center of Rock Hill.” It was certainly a community gathering place. On a portion of the Gordon lot was Mr. Cook’s peanut stand, known to everybody in town in those days. You could buy freshly parched peanuts and also some very good candy.”
THE GORDON FAMILY OF YORK COUNTY by Harold S. Walker
“David Gordon was another who chose to settle in Rock Hill. He was a Scotchman, a native of Glasgow. His parents had come to America in 1856. On Main Street David Gordon opened a tavern called the Gordon House, where he served as host for many years. The Gordon House was the first of the town’s larger hostelries. It was a low rambling building with piazzas running all around. It extended the full distance from Good’s Drug Store to the recently razed Periwinkle Tea Room. In the rear of the hotel stood a large smokehouse where cured meats were kept and a cooling center “ice house” which was used by the entire village. In front of the Gordon House was the town well, and on hot summer evenings the towns-people would come to get a cool drink and exchange the news of the day. The Gordon House was famed in its day. When the town of Rock Hill was incorporated in 1870, it was laid out “one mile square having Gordon’s Hotel for the center.” The date of the erection of this hotel is unknown but it probably antedated the War Between the States. In or before 1888 it was renamed the Central Hotel and remained under the management of David Gordon until his death in 1891. The Gordon House burned sometime after 1900.” (Information courtesy of and from: YCGHS – The Quarterly Magazine)
Also: The Gordon House was the first of the town’s larger hostelries. It was a low rambling building with piazzas running all around. It extended the, full distance from Good’s Drug Store to the recently razed Periwinkle Tea Room. In the rear of the hotel stood a large smokehouse where cured meats were kept and a cooling center (“ice house”) which was used by the entire village. In front of the Gordon House was the town well, and on hot summer evenings the towns-people would come to get a cool drink and exchange the news of the day. The Gordon House was famed in its day. When the town was incorporated in 1870, it was laid out “one mile square having Gordon’s hotel for the center.” The date of the erection of this hotel is unknown but it probably antedated the War between the States. In or before 1888 it was renamed the Central Hotel and remained under the management of David Gordon until his death in 1891. The Gordon House burned sometime after 1900. (Information from: The City Without Cobwebs – Douglas S. Brown, 1953)
In 2015 this is the approximate location of the Hampton Grill on the corner of East Main and Hampton Streets. During urban renewal efforts in downtown Rock Hill, the corner building was demolished, which had once housed the Good Pharmacy, a very popular downtown drugstore. Many older Rock Hillians recall visiting the store’s very popular soda fountain. The Hampton Grill closed in March, 2017.
Lot 6 South and Half of Lot 5—Since half of Lot 5 had been incorporated into the tract of land that housed a large carriage factory, as given above, A. T. Black evidently decided to combine the remaining half with Lot 6, thus making a lot that measured c.101-106’ in width and probably c.212-17’ in depth. He sold the property between 1852 and 1858 to an unnamed individual, who erected thereon a small frame structure. We may assume that it was a residence. It is likely that the individual aforesaid was unable to pay off his indebtedness. A. T. Black reclaimed the property.
On October 23, 1859, he conveyed the premises to Dr. James M. Johnson, who was evidently acting an agent for A. F. Kitchens of Fairfield District, S. C. The consideration was $600. The text of the deed is valuable since it reveals the names of the landowners nearby: R. M. Kerr & Company on the north (we would probably have said “west”), Main Street on the east, cross street leading to the Methodist Church on the south (we would have said “east”), and property of A. T. Black on the west. The deed says that the lot contained one third of an acre, but this is obviously a mistake. It was a half-acre lot.
Kitchens came into possession of the property on October 24, 1859. His deed bearing that date cites the names of the owner of the contiguous lots: Joseph Newton Steele on the south (we would have said “east”) and the Methodist Church on the west (we would have said “south”). On January 20, 1862, A. F. Kitchen (also spelled Ketchens and Ketchen) deeded the lot to Louisa Kitchens Gordon, wife of David Gordon. The lot dimensions as given in her deed were 106’4” x 217’4”. Mrs. Gordon was nearly related to A. F. Kitchens, but the exact connection is not known to the writer.
David Gordon was a native of County Antrim, Northern Ireland. He married Louisa (or Louise) Kitchens of Fairfield District, S. C., daughter of William and Mary Kitchens. The Gordons came to Rock Hill between 1857 and 1862. Mr. Gordon was a shoemaker and repairer. He was noted in his day for his ability to make a seamless man’s shoe. The Confederate government contracted with David Gordon to furnish shoes for the men of the Confederate Army. The Gordons, from the beginning of their residence in Rock Hill, operated a tavern or inn, which at first was called “Gordon’s Hotel” but later was known as “The Gordon House.”
The Herald reported on Sept. 9, 1891 – “Rock Hill is to have a candy manufacturing enterprise. Mr. C.H. Busch, a confectioner from Virginia, has decided to locate in our town and for the present will occupy the iron building adjoining the Central Hotel.”
The Herald reported on Jan. 3, 1889 – “That D. B. Gordon and Co., will move this week to the store on Main Street recently occupied by W. F. Swaringen. Mr. Swaringen has moved to the Roddey storehouse on Depot Street.”
They operated their inn in the small frame house on the lot. After the Civil War, c. 1870-72, they razed the old house and erected in its place a much larger building, which survived until 1906. The Gordon House property featured any number of outbuildings: a barn, a livery stable, a smokehouse, a spring house, a kitchen, and others. There was also a tall frame structure that housed a large dinner bell, which also functioned as the town fire bell. When The Town of Rock Hill was incorporated in 1870, the papers of incorporation specified Gordon’s Hotel as the center of town. The Town limits extended one mile in all directions from Gordon’s Hotel. Lest we forget, toward the end of the nineteenth century the name of the inn was changed to “The Central Hotel.” The writer likes to recall an exchange he had with one of his favorite high-school teachers, the late Miss Arabelle Gill. When he asked one day whether she remembered Gordon’s Hotel, she replied with a great deal of confidence and good humor: “Remember it? I should say I do! I was born in it!” That would have been about 1896-98. Miss Gill’s mother was evidently operating the hotel in the 1890’s. (The Charleston New and Courier reported on June 7, 1890 – “The Central Hotel is an old landmark here in Rock Hill. Its proprietor is Mr. David Gordon, who has kept the hotel since the war. It is said to be a very good hotel and has its share of patronage.”) (The Herald reported on Dec. 3, 1890 ‘ “The Central Hotel will change hands. John C. Choate and Samuel Pierce of Newport have rented the warehouse and hotel of Mr. D. Gordon, they will conduct a mercantile business in the storehouse, now occupied by E.S. Campbell and will continue operating the hotel. Mr. Gordon has been in the hotel business since 1857. He will remain a citizen of Rock Hill and will occupy the cottage of Mr. M. Miles Johnson on Hampton Street.”)
After the death of David and Louisa Gordon, their children put the entire property up for sale to the highest bidder in 1904. The heirs bought in the various parcels into which the whole had been subdivided. And then Mrs. V. B. McFadden (a daughter) and S. J. Kimball (a son-in-law) bought out the other heirs and became the sole owners. In the coming years a number of brick store buildings were erected on the property. At the corner of Main and Hampton streets (southwest corner, to be sure) the Izard Building went up in 1915 (owned by Allen C. Izard). The writer remembers that building as the location of Good’s Drug Store in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Nearby was a first-rate dress shop, called The Smart Shop, and beyond that was the large Kimbrell’s (Rayless) Department Store building, owned in the writer’s lifetime by Mrs. J. Edwin Roddey and her daughter Anna Reid (“Nan”) Roddey White (Mrs. Thomas White).
Of all the Main Street properties under consideration in this work, the Gordon Hotel lot is certainly one of the most interesting. The Gordons were typically Irish—gregarious, garrulous, fun-loving, lovable, and a wee bit fond of the fruit of the vine. Whatever else it may have been, life at the Gordon Hotel was never dull.
David and Louise (Kitchens) Gordon were among the forty-six charter members of the Presbyterian Church of Rock Hill, which was organized on November 13, 1869. At the death of Mrs. Gordon the editor of the Rock Hill Herald revealed that the church carpet at the spot where Mrs. Gordon rested her feet each time she attended worship services was threadbare. Her love of her church was passed down to her daughters.
The Herald reported on Jan 23, 1914 – “Plans are being prepared by Julian S. Starr for the remodeling of the building owned by the Rock Hill Buggy Company on East Black Street and occupied by the Rock Hill Furniture Company. The property will have a new plate glass front and a stairway to the third floor used by the buggy company for storage. C.M. Whisonant is the Manager of the furniture company and reports the entire interior will be renovated including plastered walls and boxed columns.” [On March 18, 1914 work on this building was underway and the contractors are Love and Owens.]
The Yorkville Enquirer reported on Jan. 23, 1917 that Jesse Harris, who for a number of years has been manager of the Harris Furniture Co., of Fort Mill, has resigned and will open a furniture business in Rock Hill with J.C. Hardin as his partner. The business will be managed by Theodore Harris.
The Herald reported on Jan. 31, 1919 – “The Rock Hill Furniture Company is installing a stairway and elevator in the rear of the store preparatory to opening an updated display room on the second floor. The partition between the firm’s undertaking establishment and the main section of the store has been
removed in order to make room for the large elevator. The undertaking establishment will be moved to the second floor were a complete display of funeral goods will be kept. On the second floor will also be arrayed a showroom for display for the best advantage the attractive line of household furniture and draperies carried by this popular firm.”
The Herald reported on Oct., 6, 1906 – “That the old Gordon Hotel is being torn down. The timbers were bought by African Americans to build a church in Flint Hill. The Hotel was built about  by David Gordon, who died thirteen years ago. Fire has raged all around but never burned the hotel. A new three story building will be erected on the site by Dr. T.A. Crawford and Mr. Ed Roddey.” [Information provided via Along the Lands Ford Road, Wm. B. White, Jr., author.]
“OLD LANDMARK WIPED OUT BY A FIERCE FIRE” (The following appeared in The Record, a Rock Hill newspaper, February 12, 1912.)
Saturday night just at 9 o’clock an alarm of fire was sounded and the old Robinson- Hutchison-Fewell house on East Main St., occupied by the Bailey’s tinshop, Pinauses’ fruit stand and a negro pressing club, was found to be on fire. (This building was next to the Historic Gordon’s Hotel). The fire company responded promptly, but had some little trouble in getting coupled up, a blinding snowstorm being on at the time, and by the time they had a stream playing the fire had gathered considerable headway. One stream was turned on the burning building, while another was put on the Library building to keep it from catching________________________________ A large crowd quickly gathered on the streets despite a howling windstorm and fierce snowstorm… when it was seen that there was no chance to save the old building thousands of cheers rent the air, showing the delight of the people at seeing this old building pass away. The insurance in this building which belonged to Mrs. W. L. Roddey, amounted to $750. (Information courtesy of and from: YCGHS – The Quarterly Magazine)
The Herald reported on July 16, 1902 – “this lot was offered for sale for the new federal building. It was offered by David Gordon and was described as the lot where the Central Hotel stands, with 103 ft on East Main St. and 105 ft. on Hampton Street.”
Click on the More Information > link found below the picture column for additional data.
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[Much of the information provided courtesy of Along the Land’s Ford Road – Vol. I, 2008 by William B. White, Jr.]
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