The Shamrock Hotel
Blackville, South Carolina



The Story of “The Shamrock”

The Farrell Family came to America from Ireland during the 1800's. Patrick W. Farrell settled in the Blackville (SC) area where he and his family prospered. A deed to the lot on which the Shamrock Hotel was built was acquired by John M. (Jack) Farrell in 1906 and construction of the Shamrock was completed circa 1912.

Mr. Marion Paulling operated “The Shamrock, Blackville’s handsome new hotel” according to an article in The Barnwell People in January, 1913. An article in the same newspaper in January, 1914, gives a report on the conditions in Blackville and mentions new buildings: “Among the buildings is the Shamrock Hotel, at a cost of over $20,000, having thirty rooms besides several stores and offices, all equipped with latest furnishings.”

It is not known how long Mr. Paulling operated the hotel. Sometime prior to 1920 the Groves family assumed management of the hotel. A member of the Groves family purchased the hotel in 1932 and continued managing it until the last person to operate the hotel purchased it in 1958. Due to lack of business during the winter months, the hotel was operated on a part-time basis from 1960 through 1968 when it was closed for the last time. Several businesses continued to operate on the ground level until 1982.

A pharmacy was located on the ground level of the Shamrock at the corner of Main and Walker Streets. Epps’ Pharmacy contained a marble soda fountain, and for many years a rack of comic books, making it a favorite hang-out for the town’s young folk.

During it’s heyday, the lobby of the Shamrock was a gathering place for some of the locals as well as guests of the hotel. There were several tables for writing or playing games, and a pool table in the back of the lobby. A lively game of poker was often enjoyed after dinner in the convivial atmosphere. The built-in registration desk was near the front. The floor was of white ceramic tile with “The Shamrock” spelled out in green tiles near the lobby entrance, and the ceiling was of white embossed metal. The front portion of the ground level contained two offices, the hotel main entrance, and a pharmacy on Main Street. There was an office on the Walker Street side which was occupied several times by beauty salons and finally an electronics shop. There was also a Walker Street entrance to the hotel.

The dining room occupied about a third of the second floor, with the kitchen and a screened porch at the rear. Deliveries were made by the outside stairs to the kitchen area. The ceiling of the dining room was of embossed metal similar to the lobby. Four large wooden columns rose from the lobby through the second floor dining room supporting the third floor. The gleaming four-light chandeliers featured clear ribbed glass shades. Dining room furniture included a large buffet, china cabinet, serving table, dining table, (which could easily seat ten) and chairs made of walnut in the William and Mary style. There were also four square oak tables which could seat four and two larger oblong oak tables for seating of six or eight. Accessories included white dinnerware imprinted with the green shamrock set on sparkling white damask tablecloths. An eight-day Regulator clock hanging on the wall ticked the hours away. The Shamrock employed excellent cooks and the ladies of the Groves family were noted for their special “Shamrock Dressing” recipe for tossed salad.

The interior walls of the building were tongue and groove wainscot from the baseboards up about three feet and the rest of the walls were plaster painted in pastel colors. Light green with white trim was predominant in the lobby, dining room and halls. Floors on the second and third stories were of hardwood, some covered with rugs, except the bathrooms which had white ceramic tile floors.

Each guest room had a lavatory. Two rooms had private baths and eight rooms had semi-private baths, while the other rooms offered a central bathroom for ladies on the second floor, and one for the men on the third floor. Each room was originally furnished with an oak dresser and writing desk and chair and one or more iron beds. Some of the iron beds were exchanged for more modern wooden beds with inner spring mattresses during the later years. There was a large cedar-lined storage closet for linens on the second and third floors.

The hotel manager lived in an apartment of three rooms and bath on the northeast corner of the second floor. During the sixties and seventies, there was a small sitting area on the second floor where guests could watch television or read. The balcony was an inviting spot for relaxing in the evening breeze during the hot summer months.

The hotel was often filled to capacity during the late spring and summer. The rooms were occupied by vacationers, salesmen, buyers, and truck drivers from all over the United States. Fall and winter months were not as busy, but brought enough repeat guests to keep the hotel marginally profitable until the later years.

Salesmen traveled mostly by train until the early 1940's, and many of those passing through the area regularly stayed overnight at the Shamrock. Some continued this routine even after cars became more accessible and larger towns within easy driving distance. As use of the train declined, so did business for the Shamrock.

The Shamrock, once a stately edifice, slowly crumbled due to time and neglect. Though Blackville Business Ventures hopes to restore new life to the remains, in 2009 only a portion of the red brick walls and the facade of gracefully arched windows remains.

Myrtle Quattlebaum