Fuquay Mineral Springs now has an old hotel sporting new paint and trim, shining and bright as she never was! This, the Barham Hotel, was said to have been built around 1904 but some sources say maybe as early as 1900. When the hotels catering to the Fuquay Mineral Spring visitors became a thing of the past, this building became an apartment house in 1925.
The great great grandson, Dr. Donnie Lane, is restoring the property and is just now giving it new life. While the hotel is not being restored per original, the structure is being saved as one of our two remaining hotel buildings.
The first Barham House, located on Spring Street, became derelict and was demolished in 1984. That first boarding house had as an early tenant, Lexie McLean’s grandfather, who ran the hackney which brought passengers from the depot into the town. The Barhams were originally from North Hampton County according to Margaret Lane (Lizzie and Joe Ballentine’s daughter) She recalled some of the history for the Independent in 1984.
Romulus Barham, a railroad man with wife Adriana, first turned their home into a boarding house and then built this grand hotel across the street from the mineral spring. The Barhams hired several hotel managers one of whom, Mrs. Champion, was advertised as operating the “finest hotel.” The last hotel operators were the Monroe Bullock Family who came to Fuquay Springs because they believed the mineral waters would help Mrs. Bullock’s arthritis. She was known to get about in a rolling chair when she arrived. Many testimonials from customers declare that the waters cured stomach problems and relieved rheumatism.
Mattie Bullock and nine children ran the hotel while Monroe helped the Barham daughter, Lizzie. and her husband, Joe Ballentine, who ran Varina Mercantile. Because of their long operation tenure, the hotel generally was known as the Bullock Hotel in its latter years. After it closed, Mrs. Bullock resided there in one of the apartments. The report was that she drank the waters every day as long as she lived.
The original hotel boasted 16 rooms, with bowls and pitchers of spring water delivered to each daily. According to Sue Bullock Fuller guests usually stayed about two weeks and guests were able to walk down the muddy street to “take the waters at the spring.” Mrs. Bullock and her oldest daughter ran the kitchen and dining hall located in the hotel basement while others of the Bullock children ran up and down three floors tending the guests.
Sue Fuller recalled that guests “converged upon the spring hill so that there was not even walking space.” Early photographs in the museums verify this appearance. Fourth of July and Easter Monday were the largest events and usually required extra police forces from the town. All the hotels were reputed to have served numbers of guests.
This wonderful old hotel should re-open soon as an apartment building affording many tenants outside entry, a balcony and modern living conditions. Truly she appears a “lady in her new spring outfit.”
Source: The History of Fuquay-Varina, The Independent, January 18, 1984. Information from Sue Bullock Fuller and the Lane Family., The Independent 1995 interview of Sue Fuller.