About The VictoriaBuilt in 1888, the Victoria was home to three prominent Anniston families before its preservation as a country inn and restaurant in 1985.
In 1887 John Mckleroy, partner in the Anniston Land Company, chose the highest hill on Quintard Avenue on which to build his home. McKleroy was a Confederate Veteran, State School Superintendent and a candidate for governor twice. He died in 1894 and his widow occupied the home until her son William moved her out while she was on vacation in Florida. William was mayor of Anniston and died six months after moving his mother out. The McKleroy family occupied the home for 25 years. (In the Gentlemen’s Retreat is a silver chafing dish, which once belonged to the McKleroys when they lived here.)
The McKleroy Guestroom is the most Victorian of the main house’s bedrooms. It features antiques from the 1890’s when Anniston was a boomtown. And while its mantle looks to be marble, it is actually iron made in one of Anniston’s foundries and painted to create the marbleized effect. The bath features a jetted claw-foot tub. In 1920 William McKleroy’s widow sold the house at public auction to William Coleman Wilson. Wilson was president of the Emory Foundry Company, which produced cast-iron pipe – Anniston’s most prominent product. The Wilsons occupied the residence until 1949.
The Wilson Suite is the largest of the bedrooms within the main house. It features the middle portion of the three-story turret and a half-canopied bed. Again, the mantle is iron and painted to look marble. Under the window on the right as you come in, you will notice a small door. This functioned as a doorway to the porch – just open the window and push the smaller door open. (these have now been sealed.) A claw-foot tub is also featured in this room’s bath. When Mr. Wilson died in 1949, Frank and Robbie Kirby became the third owners and last full-time residents. Mr. Kirby was the founder and president of Anniston Electric Company; Mrs. Kirby was a leading musician in the community and entertained graciously in her music room, now know as the Victoria Lounge.
The Kirby Suite displays the chintz and colors popular again today. The “modernized” bath was updated when the Kirby’s bought the house. Additionally, this bedroom features Victorian built-ins in the bath and the entryway closet. We understand this closet was used as a dollhouse for visiting nieces. Again, the antiques are indicative of the 1800’s The simple iron fireplace mantle is painted.
After the death of these owners, the Kirby estate went into a trust for their sisters, the Methodist Church and the Children’s Methodist Home. These heirs were contacted by a creative-thinking realtor to consider making this a country inn. They loved the idea and in 1984 the estate was purchased by a South Carolina developer. Anniston architect Julian Jenkins and contractor Earlon McWhorter designed and restored this Southern home. The Victoria was listed on the National Register of Historical Place in 1984.
The restoration for Alabama’s first Country Inn took approximately two years under the careful guidance of Jenkins and McWhorter. The main house maintained its original Queen Anne Victorian beauty from the hardware on the doors, the incised oak paneling and staircase to the double layer of stained glass which dominate the second floor landing. Outside you will notice the mixture of wave and square shingles (once painted red and mustard yellow) with Dutch and German siding on the lower portion and entrance. In the tiles of the first level fireplace mantles you will find numerous details of nature as well as the Sunbursts on both sides of the house outside.
Because Anniston needed hotel rooms, the annex additions to the main house were created… twenty-six rooms in 1986 and eighteen in 1988. Architect Julian Jenkins integrated the new architecture with the old. “We wanted to capture the spirit of the original structure in the new work to achieve a continuity of architectural experiences. The transition spaces, both open and covered, were woven into an outdoor atrium canopied by large oaks to accommodate garden and terrace activities…In every case, we considered the dignity of the original structure.”
In 1996 McWhorter completed the final phase of The Victoria with an addition of twelve guest rooms. The Victoria has sixty rooms and a fine-dining restaurant, which can seat up to one hundred people. It was the goal of McWhorter and Company, Inc. to do justice to the architectural plan by providing highly skilled craftsmen and artisans required for this specialized project.
In January 2009 McWhorter donated The Victoria to Jacksonville Stated University Foundation. The Foundation has contracted with Jackson Hospitality Services to manage the hotel. Future plans include using the hotel and restaurant as a teaching facility for JSU students going into the hospitality field.
The Victoria is open year round. A complimentary breakfast buffet is served to guests and dinner is served Tuesday through Saturday beginning at 5:30 P.M. For reservations call 256-236-0503.