Nancy Burk
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Obituary of Nancy (Nannie) Burk

Chattanooga Times May 2, 1922

Mrs. Nancy Burk Dead; builder Burk Hotel

Mrs. Nancy Burk, 78, died yesterday at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Ed Dayton, 63 Oak street. She was the widow of W. A. Burk, pioneer citizen of Chattanooga, who died more than thirty years ago. Mrs. Burk was the builder of the Burk Hotel on Market street which she operated for many years. Since her sale of the hostelry it became known as the Imperial. She was active in the management of the hotel until she was 75 years of age.

At the time of the war between the states, Mrs. Burk resided in Cartersville. Her house was burned by marauders in Sherman's army. She and her sisters later rebuilt the house and Mrs. Burk is said to have told the Union soldiers that if they burned it again she would "hang them in chimneys". Shortly after the close of the war, Mrs. Burk with a large family of children, came to Chattanooga. She was noted for thrift and ability to save. She learned the trade of a cobbler, and, at one time made all of the shoes worn by her family, besides supplying many of her neighbors. She was a member of the Central Baptist church.

Surviving Mrs. Burk, besides Mrs. Dayton, are another daughter, Mrs. T. J. Bloss of South Pittsburg; two sons, J.J. of Decatur, Ala., and W. H. Burk of Tampa. The funeral will be held at Wean's chapel this afternoon at 4. The body will be taken ((by train)) to Jasper, Tenn., for burial. ((at Hoge Cem))

Here is a more correct story about Nannie

What Did That Old Building Used To Be - The Burk Hotel

posted September 25, 2003 Photo by Harmon Jolley Chattanoogan (on-line publication)

Old Burk Hotel is on Cherry Street near Seventh. During my annual vision exam, Dr. Clayton Rhodes always asks what's new with me since the previous visit. This year, I told him about the local history articles that I've been writing for the Chattanoogan.com. He asked if I knew that there used to be hotel in the building where he and his father, Dr. Albert C. Rhodes, once had an optometry office. Their address was 710 Cherry Street. I didn't know about the hotel, and went to the library in search of information.

The microfilm of old city directories and newspapers confirmed what Dr. Rhodes had told me. The building was originally the Burk Hotel, named for its builder and proprietor, Mrs. Nancy ("Nannie") Burk. Her obituary from May 2, 1922 gives insight to her personality and experiences which helped her in the business world. She lived in Cartersville, GA at the time of the Civil War. General Sherman and his troops - described as "marauders" in her obituary - set fire to the Burk home. The obituary said that she and her sisters later rebuilt the house. Mrs. Burk is said to have told the Union soldiers that if they burned it again, she would "hang them in the chimneys." Her husband, W. A. Burk, was a pioneer citizen of Chattanooga, and moved his family back home following the war.

After her husband's death in 1892 ((in Jasper, TN)) , Mrs. Burk learned the craft of shoemaking, and became the cobbler not only for the shoes worn by her children, but also by the neighbors. Two of her children, William H. and John J. Burk, grew up to become pioneering automobile dealers in Chattanooga. By 1899, she had put her noted "thrift and ability to save" to work in running a small restaurant at 116 East Seventh Street. In 1907, she opened the Burk Hotel at 710 Cherry Street. Its dining room was managed by her son-in-law, T. J. Bloss. The hostelry also leased space to a picture framing and wallpaper business. The interior included high ceilings and hardwood floors. Though the hotel wasn't next door to the train stations, it was very close to the Hamilton County Courthouse. In the era before automobiles, residents of Sale Creek and Birchwood may have stayed at the hotel if conducting business at the Courthouse. It also likely had budget rates that were appealing to traveling salesmen and railroad employees.

Nannie Burk continued to manage the hotel until 1919, when she was 75 years old, and then sold the business. It then was called the Majestic Hotel, owned by J.W. Eldridge. As of 1930, the lodging went by the name that it would have for most of its history, the Hotel Hamilton or, at times, the Hamilton Hotel. James Herbert Brantley operated it under the name Brantley Hotel Operators. In the 1930's, the businesses which also had addresses in the 700 block of Cherry Street included the fledgling Krystal Restaurant, Southern Ad Company, Lookout Billiard Hall, and Karrosa Manufacturing (of handkerchiefs). In addition to the Krystal, some names which continued into more recent times included Martin-Thompson Sporting Goods and Lansford's Pianos.

An oft-told tale, the Hotel Hamilton declined, along with other downtown hotels, as cars replaced passenger trains following World War II. Its name disappears from the city directory after 1975.

Thanks to Drs. Clayton Rhodes and Albert Rhodes for their contributions to this article. If you have memories or old photos of the Burk/Majestic/Hamilton Hotel, please send me an e-mail at jolleyh@signaldata.net.

This obituary & article were provided by Dick Bloss


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January 8, 2005

JKL