Collection: Lesa Walter
Scanned by Jon Walter
The Hotel Rhea, circa 1910
The Hotel Rhea, built in 1904, was owned by Mrs. Lizzie Burel and managed by her and her husband, Mr. William C. Burel from 1904 until 1912. In 1912, the hotel was leased to a Mr. Lennington and Mr. Powers from St Louis, who managed the hotel until it was destroyed by fire on November 15, 1914.
According to an article in the March 22, 1912 edition of “The Blade” newspaper, The Hotel Rhea had 64 sumptuously furnished rooms that were hardly adequate to supply the demand for accommodations at the time.
This is my Mothers Hotel
This postcard, owned by my wife, has a special meaning to her because she descends from the Rhea’s on her mother’s side.
The mother referenced on this card, Mrs. Lizzie Burel, was born Mary Elizabeth “Lizzie” Cooper in 1860 in Walnut Ridge. She married John A. Rhea in 1876, but was widowed in 1893 (that’s another story). She married James Turner in 1893, then later married W.C. Burel in 1904, when the Hotel Rhea was built.
John A. Rhea and Lizzie Cooper Rhea had two children, Harry Rhea and Lindsey “Linnie” Anna Rhea. We believe this card was written at the bottom by Linnie Rhea. Linnie died in 1910, placing this card somewhere between 1904 and 1910. However, since the postcard has a divided back, it can be placed between 1907 and 1910.
Linnie Rhea was married to William Kibler Surridge. W. K. Surridge was Lawrence County Clerk for four years, County Sheriff for four years, and also obtained the rank of Brigadier General, commanding the National Guard of Arkansas. Linnie and W. K. had one daughter – Rheamona Surridge Less, a popular piano teacher in Walnut Ridge that many remember today.
Main Street 1910
The Hotel Rhea takes up nearly the entire 100 Block of West Main Street. You can see the streetcar tracks running down main, and also the streetcar at the far left of the postcard. In addition to the Hotel Lobby, many businesses were located on the 1st floor storefronts of the hotel, including Moses Cooper’s Drugstore, Walnut Ridge Furniture Company, W. E. Beloate – Attorney, Mack’s Toggery, Mrs Midkiff’s Millinery, The Annex Barbershop, W. A. Dowell’s Newstand, and the Post Office.
Today, only the left most part of the original Rhea Hotel still stands, which housed M.S. Cooper’s Drug Store on the first floor. This building has been recently renovated and will re-open in mid September 2013 as The Hotel Rhea. The Venue, an event center with catering kitchen, recently opened in the downstairs.