Searcy’s most famous hotel, the Mayfair, observed its 75th birthday in 1999. White County Historical Society president Eddie Best uncovered a forgotten story about this historic structure when he helped the local television station do some research for a 30-minute show on the Mayfair. Every history he had ever read about the Mayfair – including the writeup by the prestigious Arkansas Historic Preservation Program – states that the Gill House was torn down in 1924 and replaced by the Mayfair Hotel on the same spot.
But he learned otherwise in the summer.
“I was at a church fellowship,” Best said, “when I spied Juanita Morgan, who lived in Searcy in the 1920s, and asked her if she remembered when the Gill House was torn down.
“‘Well, no, I don’t,’ she replied, ‘because the Gill House wasn’t torn down. It was put on telephone poles and rolled to the back of the lot and attached to the back of the new hotel when it was built.’”
The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program states Gill House was built in 1882. So, how old was the Mayfair in 1999? 75? Or 117? TV personality Donna Lowery confirmed Juanita’s story when she interviewed owners and residents of the hotel. Her 30-minute video served as the program for the Historical Society’s July 1999 meeting.