HISTORY OF THE PUREFOY HOTEL – from the Purefoy Hotel Cook Book
The Purefoy Hotel had its modest beginning in 1916 in the little town of Monroeville, Alabama.
Mrs. Eva B. Purefoy had been reared in a hotel atmosphere and her love of the business drew her again into that fascinating calling.
A successful business was built up in their four years at Monroeville, but as the hotel grew in popularity, so did the difficulties due to crowding. There was no way to modernize or expand; a new location was needed.
On May 17, 1920, The Purefoy Hotel opened in Talladega. The Purefoy’s fame spread as the time passed, far beyond the borders of Alabama. Travelers from coast to Coast and to the northernmost limits of the United States discovered the hospitality and gustatory delights to be enjoyed at the hotel. The dining room became more widely known as writers for national magazines and newspapers sampled the delicious food and went home full of praise. Life Magazine did a feature on The Purefoy and McCall’s Magazine gave a special citation to The Purefoy for excellence in preparation and presentation of food. Duncan Hines, in his book, “Adventures in Good Eating,” listed The Purefoy as one of the select eating places of the nation.
The Sunday dinners proved so popular that often the dining room had to turn away guests. As many as 525 persons were served at one Sunday dinner. People from surrounding towns and distant cities joined the local folks in flocking to The Purefoy. It’s no wonder. Where else could one dine on 30 different Southern dishes for $1.65 (or $2.10 for non-roomers)? At The Purefoy, the horn of plenty was a reality as well as a picture on the menu and it was said that a Purefoy supper could put five pounds on a guest.
During the years, Mrs. Purefoy enhanced the attractions of an excellent cuisine and a friendly atmosphere with many unusual and rare pieces of furniture which graced The Purefoy’s dining room, lobbies and guests rooms. Desiring to retire after long years of service, Mrs. Purefoy sold the Hotel in 1944 to her brother-in-law and the hotel’s previous manager, Edward T. Hyde. A genial and renowned host, Mr. Hyde sustained the hotel’s acclaimed traditions of fine food, hospitable service, and courteous attention. In 1961, it was decided to close the hotel, and a great tradition of eloquent southern cooking at the Purefoy ended. 1 he 88-room hotel that had been so successful for 47 years had come a long way from the 15-room boarding house that began its life in Monroeville. It was, in Mrs. Purefoy’s words, “The greatest small town hotel business this country will ever know”.
Though it was over, it would be a long time before it was forgotten. The storied social order known today as the “Old South” was distinctive for many things but none has survived the passing years more firmly established in fact and legend than Southern hospitality and Southern cooking. Perhaps this is because they are so closely interrelated, for true hospitality requires guests be well fed and, conversely, the serving of good food is in itself a gesture of hospitality. The Purefoy Hotel observance of these two traditions created its fame.
Recipes from the Purefoy Hotel Cook Book – 1941