History of Campbell County, Tennessee

Time Line


By Dallas Bogan

Reprinted with Permission from Dallas Bogan.  This article was published in the Volunteer Times.

     As I was searching through the archives of the Campbell County Historical Society/Museum in LaFollette recently, the writer discovered a history of recent hotels in the city. They were the Adro and the Russell hotels of which I'm sure the older folks remember. The first, the Adro Hotel, appeared in an edition of the LaFollette Press, dated April 12 (?) 1922. The title of the article was: Adro Hotel Opens To Public: Magnificent New Hostelry Celebrates Event With Dance and Dinner. It goes as such:

     "The new Adro Hotel held its formal opening last Thursday night. A delightful dinner was enjoyed by more than two hundred and fifty guests. The lobby, dining room, parlor and halls were filled with the gay assemblage that came to celebrate the opening of one of the most magnificent hotels in East Tennessee. Every room has been reserved in advance. Guests came from a number of neighboring towns and from several states.

     "Bowen's Lyric Orchestra of Knoxville played during the dinner and for the dance afterwards. Their music was very fine and the guests showed their appreciation by generous applause. This orchestra is an excellent organization and LaFollette people will welcome them enthusiastically should they plan a return engagement.

     "Considering the number to be served, the management deserves credit for the efficient way it was handled. Dinner began at 6:30 and continued until after 10. The menu was complete in every respect, consisting of cream of tomato, celery hearts, queen olives, chicken a la king, baked country ham with current jelly, head lettuce, sliced tomatoes, Thousand Island dressing, snow flake potatoes, creamed cauliflower, French peas en patties, hot rolls, vanilla ice cream with fresh peaches, Marshmallow pie, coffee and iced tea.

     "After the dinner, tables were removed and dancing was enjoyed by the guests far into the 'wee small hours.' Everybody was enthusiastic in their praise of the whole affair. It was one of the most brilliant occasions ever witnessed in LaFollette.

     "While waiting turn to be served the guests made an inspection of the splendid new hotel. Every convenience and comfort has been thought of in the arrangement and equipment of the building. There are larger hotels in the state, but
there are none equipped to render better service than is the Adro.

     "The manager, Mr. John B. Minnich, was formerly manager of the Continental Hotel in Pineville. He is an experience man hotel man who not only knows the traveling public, but also knows their requirements in hotel services.

     "The builders and owners, Messrs. Adams and Rogers were kept busy receiving congratulations on their public spirit shown by their investing a large amount of money in a modern hotel for LaFollette."


     The following is an article taken from the writings of Maria Claiborne, based on her memories of the Russell Hotel in LaFollette.

     The Russell Hotel was originally the Adro Hotel and was built by Dr. W.C. Adams and Jim Rogers (ADams and Rogers).

     Dr. Adams was reared in Virginia where his family had lived on the James River near Richmond for many generations. After graduating from the Dental College of Virginia, he took note of the call "Go west, young man." His decision took him to LaFollette, Tennessee, a coal and iron town, which was founded by Harvey M. LaFollette. He apparently arrived before the big LaFollette fire in 1904, for Dr. Adam's tragedy during the fire was one of the narrowest of escapes. His apartment was located on the third floor where he was completely cut off by flames. Upon his retreat from the disaster, he was compelled to break the window, jump through a wire screen to the pavement below. Dr. Adams broke his hip and suffered from a limp for the rest of his life.

     Jim Rogers was from an old Claiborne family dating back to Major David Rogers. Jim wed Melvina Bolinger and subsequently operated a mill on Indiana Avenue. Adams and Rogers were previously engaged in several businesses together, and in 1922 built the hotel.

     The Russell Hotel, during the depression, was purchased by Bill Russell and later passed on to Bill's nephew, C.H. Russell, and Icey Russell, who was a daughter of Jim Rogers. The name continued on, in essence, to provide a welcome for travelers and was known specifically for its delicious meals. Wedding receptions and distinctive parties were given in the congenial hotel.

     Dr. Adams walked down the aisle with Sarah Elizabeth Sharp. Old letters were found in an attic trunk of their home, which were written by Dr. Adams and Sarah Sharp while she was studying music at the Conservatory in Cincinnati.

     As of July 1997, the Russell Hotel had been razed and the lot was prepared for a building by the housing authority.
Maria Claiborne also wrote of different happenings in LaFollette. She states that brothers D & G Lobertini arrived in East Tennessee in the 1900s. D. Lobertini, at the time of WW I, owned a coal mine on Davis Creek, and G. Lobertini was a weighman and a checker at a mine.

     She writes that D. Lobertini built the Piedmont Hotel in LaFollette. According to the marble stone in the corner of the building, the hotel was built in 1923. It was considered quite attractive. It was relatively spacious and the masonry floor was considered very appealing. A wide stairway led to the second floor and a bridge from the back of the second floor led to a parking lot at a second level behind the building.

     Nephews, Frank and Leo Lobertini, began making ice in the 1920s and later established the concrete block business that later expanded into the rather large operation known as Loby Blox.

     The Piedmont Hotel was owned and controlled by Carl Burnette of Powell Valley Hardware Company. The hotel was later sold to Charlie Russell, who also operated the Russell Hotel. It was later sold to John Brown and others. Sometime later, a fire damaged the building to the degree that the third story was removed and the building was converted to a two-story dwelling.

Many thanks to the personnel at the Campbell County Historical Society for submitting the information for this article.

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