November Meeting – Travis Souther Speaks on the Orton Hotel Fire

The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society will hold its monthly meeting on Monday, November 18, 7:30 pm at the Federal Point History Center, 1121-A North Lake Park Blvd., adjacent to Carolina Beach Town Hall.

Travis Souther is our speaker this month. He will be speaking on the Orton Hotel fire that happened in Wilmington, in January of 1949.

Travis Souther has spent most of his life in North Carolina and has lived in all three regions of the state. Born and raised in the Piedmont, Travis attended school at Appalachian State University in the mountains, and now lives here at the coast. At Appalachian State, he graduated with a Bachelors in History and Education. He earned his Masters of Library and Information Science at UNC-Greensboro in 2015.

When not working in the North Carolina Room at the New Hanover County Public Library, he enjoys many hobbies including participating in living history events from both the Revolutionary War and World War II eras.

Travis’ presentation tells the story of the lovely Orton Hotel. Located in downtown Wilmington, the hotel housed many guests from the time of its construction in 1885 until a disastrous fire in 1949. Utilizing materials from the New Hanover County Public Library, this presentation looks at the 1949 Orton Hotel Fire through a number of different lenses. These lenses are ways that anyone, not just historians and researchers, can use in telling a fuller story of any given historical event.

In 1885 Colonel Kenneth M. Murchison opened the Orton Hotel in the top floors of the Murchison & Giles building at 109 N. Front St. The hotel, named for Murchison’s Brunswick County plantation, expanded in 1888 with a larger building to the north of the original structure that included a two story porch. The two buildings were connected by an arched opening and had 100 guest rooms.

In 1905, a year after Murchison died; Joseph H. Hinton acquired the property and started renovations including the addition of a high-speed electric elevator, electric lights, running water and telephones in each room. — Wilmington StarNews