The Vagabond – A college once stood near Noccalula Falls

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By Danny Crownover

In May of 1895, citizens of Gadsden were elated over the news that Dr. A.B. Jones, who had been operating Huntsville Female College, had purchased the Belleview Hotel on the Lookout

Mountain and was to establish Jones’ College for Young Ladies.

Dr. Jones’ institution in Huntsville enjoyed a wide patronage from Alabama and neighboring states with an average attendance was 270. However, the buildings at Huntsville burned to the ground in January of 1895, and the educator sought a different location for the college.

R.A. Mitchell, the mayor of Gadsden at that time, notified Dr. Jones that he could purchase the Belleview Hotel from the Gadsden Land and Improvement Company, of which he was president. Mitchell was also president of the Queen City Bank. After Dr. Jones inspected sites in several states, the deal was made.

Before the school’s opening term started, Dr. Jones hoped to install “an electric plant with the capacity of 250 lights” and to build “a system of waterworks to supply the famous mineral and health-giving waters of Lookout Mountain to the school.” He also planned to begin construction of a “costly” conservatory and chapel. The building would measure 60 feet wide and 90 feet long and have a height of two stories. The chapel would feature a large pipe organ, “which would be one of the finest in the South.”

A local newspaper soon reported on Dr. Jones’ plans and said that he was led to Gadsden because “the site of the building is the prettiest spot on Lookout Mountain. The college is [located] only a short distance from Noccalula Falls, famous for its beauty and grandeur. On an eminence for above the city, occupants of the school can see every building in the fair city of Gadsden. But the healthfulness [sic] of the location was the most attractive part of the school.”

Dr. Jones operated the school successfully for a brief period but died shortly after coming to Gadsden. His heirs were unable to make a success of the institution, and the property was eventually converted into a hotel.

The structure’s buildings burned in 1898, and no effort was made to replace them. Where the school stood eventually became the site of the B.L. Noojin home.

Contact The Vagabond at dkcrown@bellsouth.net.

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