VIDEO AND PHOTOS: Mentone Springs Hotel & White Elephant Antiques Store Destroyed by Saturday Night Fire

MENTONE, Ala. (WHNT) – The Mentone Springs Hotel was destroyed by fire Saturday night.

The call came in around 9:00 p.m. Saturday.  The flames spread to the big antique mall next door, The White Elephant.  Firefighters say it is a complete loss, too.

Officials at the scene say no one was injured. They have not determined the cause of the fire yet.

They say there were commercial-grade propane tanks outside of the hotel. Officials say none exploded, thanks to firefighters.

A spokesperson for the Mentone Fire Department says a guest tried to put out the flames with fire extinguisher but it was too late.  The spokesman said the main focus for firefighters was keeping the blaze contained to the hotel so that it wouldn’t spread to rest of the town.

The Mentone Springs Hotel was built in 1884.  It was the last wooden Victorian hotel in Alabama.  We’re told the hotel was roughly 28,000 square feet.

Laura Hunt from Boaz and her family were visiting Mentone for the first time on Saturday.  They were having dinner at the Moonlight Bistro in Mentone after she, her husband and four children had a day of hiking.  She tells WHNT News 19 that as they were finishing up their meal, their server came to them and told them that their meal would be complimentary because the hotel next door was on fire and that the family needed to evacuate.  Hunt described it as a “pretty frightening experience.”  She said they saw “black smoke billowing out” of the hotel.

“You could not help feel a sense of hopelessness and sorry for what was happening to this historic site and to the community,” Hunt said.  “Our deepest sympathies to Mentone.”

39 comments

  • Ava's Haven

    Our beautiful cabin is located right next to the White Elephant. Luckily we are in Birmingham. So worried about the safety of everyone there. What a huge loss, so sad, such a beautiful place

      • Ava's Haven

        Thank you it was very kind of you to take the time to let me know! It sounds like the fire department had their hands full and did an extraordinary job protecting the town and containing as much as they possibly could. Everyone involved deserves special recognition!

  • Laura

    A major part of our family’s collective memory is now sadly, only just that, a memory. Hope no one was hurt. So sad indeed

  • Diane Adams

    Both are wonderful pieces of Alabama. The Mentone Springs Hotel was the oldest working hotel in the state. The White Elephant was also a high end hotel in its day, with private suites including bathrooms. I loved visiting both of these beautiful properties and will miss seeing them both when we go up to Mentone again.

    • Zina Morgan

      Yes the History of Laughing while on Motorcycles, taking a R turn n front of what now was a Beautiful sight with a Gray Hair Man,Picking on the other bikers fore having to wait Longer to get on the road.It was The Stop & wait for the Bikers to catch back up to you on the way Home. Beautiful Love Memories Gone By (Family Love) Lots of Memories for All that have Lived near & fare. It will Never Be the Same Her Beautiful Windows Shining in the sun light/moon light will BE Messed!! Pray 4 All involved Fire man,Cops too

  • Debra Miller

    Just finished watching the update on WHNT, and it was first referred to as “Mentone Inn”, which is, of course, the other historic hotel in Mentone. I hope they keep the names straight to avoid misinformation.

  • Robert Allgood

    The loss of this icon is so devestating. Every time i went back home to Mentone this is what I first saw as I topped the mountatin. I really hope and pray that the current owners will try and replace it with something similar even though it wont be the same. so sad……..

  • Lesa

    My heart is breaking. How can my family top the mountain and not see that beautiful white building at the 4 way stop? The memories of my daughters and I and the treasures I own because of the this incredible place. Thank you and I am praying for everyone’s loss.

  • sally cook williams

    Heartbreaking news . Many family memories shared there. Such a special historic building. A Historic landmark lost for Mentone and a huge sentimental loss for so many people who have shared such good times at that old Inn.

  • Alvin Mize

    what became the white elephant ,was first known as SUNSET INN my family owned it in 1972-73. i was just today telling my kids about the good time we had there and how i wished i could go back there and go into the part of the basement that was still dirt and retrieve my old tonka trucks from where me and my brothers would play

  • Tammy

    A very sad day here in Mentone but thankful that nobody was injured thanks to the tremendous efforts of our volunteer firemen and at least 7 surrounding towns that sent their fire trucks to help them. Please pray for our town as we try to recover from this devastating loss.

  • Doreen Waters

    As the owner of the Hitching Post across the street from the hotel, I am deeply saddened by the loss of this historic landmark. I watched in horror as first the hotel, then the White Elephant were consumed in flames. The entire town is numb with shock and grief.

    Doreen Waters

  • Stanley Bridges

    What would be wonderful, is to apply for grants (historical grants, museum grants, energy grants, etc.), and combine that with any insurance money to rebuild it in its original historical form, but energy efficient, with updated electrical and plumbing, and slight modifications to fit in conference rooms, in hotel shops and stores to draw business, and a museum to highlight the history of Mentone and the surrounding area, and the historical significance of the victorian hotels as they relate to horse drawn coach travel.

  • Tim Dobson - Fort Payne

    I am so sorry for the loss of Mentone and for all of Dekalb County as well as the state of Alabama. We had so many visitors from all over to visit… It wont be the same. But I thank the Lord for no one was hurt. My prayers are with town’s people and all of those who worked hard putting out the fires..

  • Lucretia

    The Bains and Kerbys, my family, were born and raised in this beautiful city. My heart is broken!! My heart goes out to all my relatives and residents. I remember as a kid being amazed at its beautiful structure. Stanley I hope your dreams come true regarding rebuilding this historical site. My prayers are for a quick recovery from this disaster.

  • Betty Sexton

    This is the last place my three daughters and I celebrated my birthday by having dinner.. So beautiful.. Can’t believe it’s gone. Two historical buildings at once just too much..My heart feels so sad for all of this community..

  • Teresa N

    As I was hearing the news last night of this tragedy, I could not help but cry for that community…the firefighters… and the emergency personnel trying to bring control to the chaos.
    Having grown up in the area and visited both the hotel and the White Elephant, and knowing the history they individually contributed to the appeal of Mentone makes the loss even more painful.
    I cherish the memories I have while visiting the hotel for dinners/gatherings over the years. One most recent was with my sisters and mom celebrating her birthday in December. The staff was so gracious, and Larry Joe Hall taking time from his singing schedule to sing to my mother… that memory is even more special now.
    These landmarks cannot be replaced, but my hopes are that something almost as beautiful that blends in with this quaint town will be built there for future memories… and Godspeed the healing of the town for such a loss.

  • Linda Brown

    To all of the firefighters: Thank you so much-for your wonderful work when our worst fear happened, and for your foresight in training to be ready! You are all my hero!!

  • Myrtle Richey

    My husband and i have been going Mentone for years .years later,our whole family went and enjoy the treasures we found…We are so sadden by this..Sun afternoon was our white elephant time…how we loved it…I pray they can rebuild…this was our favorite place.quaint,great food and memories…

  • Thompson

    It is a sad day for Mentone and for Alabama to have suffered such a great loss. The Mentone Springs Hotel was pretty much the center of a tiny mountain town as well as being a restored gem of a building rich in history and obvious pride. The community is most assuredly very thankful to all the rescue workers, fire fighters, and volunteers who managed to keep things contained with no lives lost. The “innkeeper”, was at the scene this morning. She mentioned that the fire started in the electrical box. Were there no fire extinguishers in the building at the time of her discovery? There was also mention of guests who were staying at the hotel last night. Even more curious… was she the only employee in the building? I suppose it really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Thank the Lord no one was hurt or worse. It is such a tragedy and that beautiful hotel is left in rubble, ashes and is no more after standing so stately in all her glory for 135 years. Things are just that, things, and can always be replaced. The lives of people, not. Grateful to God everyone made it out alive.

  • Terry McIntosh

    What a devastating loss!! I spent many years in Mentone growing up . . . . and this was such an amazing landmark!!! I love the idea of rebuilding as close to the original as possible!! I hope it can be done!! My love and prayers to the Mentone community as you cope with this tragedy!!!

  • Daniel Lowry

    I’m also a resident of Mentone. Passing by that hotel everyday to and from work. Such a beautiful place, so majestic… The White Elephant was also a favorite weekend pass-time of mine… It’s definitely not something we expected and it is already missed terribly. What a terrible weekend…

  • Christina

    Hearing about this saddens me something fierce. My heart goes out to everyone in Mentone. Especially to the owners of the white elephant and the Mentone Springs Hotel. I guess in some twisted way it could make sense that both buildings went up together in flames, considering they used to be as one.

    To clear up the history; The White Elephant was ORIGINALLY part of the Mentone Springs Hotel. It was built as an anex/over flow/additional rooms when the Hotel and the springs were at the peak of their operation. My Dad and step mother were owners of the hotel, and were the ones who actually restored her from the run down state she once was in. I spent several summers of my youth inside those walls. I have so many fond memories there. There will always be a special place in my heart for that old lady. Every time I’d visit Mentone I always admired her beauty once I got to the top of the mountain. She always made me smile thinking of the memories I once had there. She will greatly be missed.

  • Kelli Walker

    Such a loss. I danced with my toddler son in the dining room as we celebrated my step-mother’s birthday this past November. A fabulous meal, great company and the kindness of the owners who invited my husband and me to tour the art room and owners’ quarters upstairs.

    We were looking forward to returning this summer for the 130th Anniversary as we have been building memories in Mentone for several years now. We were excited for the turn the place was taking since the new ownership took over. My heart goes out to the staff and the townsfolk. I will hang tight to my memories.

  • monika

    We are so sad. We are from Nashville, TN and spend 3 weeks there every year. This past summer (2013) we went to the hotel for a quick visit and to check the menu for dinner. The dear lady inside took us on a tour of every room and the ball room. It was a peaceful step back in time. The white elephant was fun shopping and we were told the upper room in the right corner was haunted. It was also a brothel at one time????
    We are going to Mentone in two weeks for spring break and it will break our hearts.

  • Steve

    Was there for a get away during October fest and had a very good time. The town was so relaxing and the hotel was the focal point. Always said that Mentone was the perfect place. Prayers to the residence and owner.

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