Commodore Inn at Clifton
The Hughes Home
William Alford( Alfred) Hughes was the only son born to Thomas Ridley (T.R.) and Mary Frances Montague. William’s father Thomas and his brother Frank established a mercantile business in Clifton in 1854 calling it- T.S Hughes & Co. They sold the finest staple dry goods, clothing, notions, shoes, furniture, as well as many other items. This was a very successful trade business in the town and the county. William grew up and married Lillian Taylor. They had nine children of their own: Beatrice, Harry, Ralph Montague, Clara and Lura ( twins) , Marguerite, Anna May, Francis, and Dorothy. William was the town banker and merchant in Clifton who built the stately home on Pillow Street. Because his family owned the finest store in the town, he had access to quality items to put into his own home.
It was S.B. Ricketts and his wife who sold the lot #94 to William on Sept. 29, 1892 to build his home. According to the deed, it consisted of about a half-acre of land. On the lot, William built a schoolhouse, a gazebo, a barn, and a beautiful Victorian home where he and his wife Lillian and their nine children lived. The building which is adjacent to the house was used by the family as their school. On one of the walls in the building you can see where the children have written their names and the dates. It also has the words “Be seated” written by the instructor.
On June 28, 1898 William bought the adjoining lot #95 from T S Hassell, his brother in law. His wife Clara Hughes Hassell was the sister of William Alford ( Alfred) Hughes. They had three children: Tom Frank, Pauline, and Frances. The #95 tract of land was used to grow many vegetables and had at least two or three fruit trees on it. The children played games of the season like croquet on the parcel of land close to the house. The Hassell cousins would come over to play games with them as well. Family members remember hearing Pauline and Frances talk about their cousins who lived across the street playing croquet on the lawn.
There have been only three owners of this house in its 123 year old history – William / Lillian Hughes, J.B. /Marie Hughes Spurlock, and Charles Hughes/ Virginia Spurlock.
One interesting piece of family history is the death of Frank Hughes, son of T S Hughes and Bettie Speer. Young Frank was fourteen when he was tragically killed as his gun discharged on a hunting accident on February 1, 1904. It is said his body was brought to Cousin William’s house because it was the closest. Supposedly it stayed in the parlor until it could be carried away. Due to the fact that Frank Hughes’s parents were so prominent in the community as was the entire Hughes family, the people of Clifton proposed calling the new school which was about to be built, Frank Hughes College. After the school was built, out-of-town students used to come to Clifton and board in some of the finer, larger homes. The Hughes’s home was one of those used to house the students.
The house itself is in the Victorian period style. Many of the fixtures in the house are original. The floors are original as is the stained glass in the front picture window in the parlor. One or two of the panels in the stained glass were replaced due to a tornado that came through and took out the entire window. Some of the windows are original to the house. The windows are sash windows which are characteristic of the Victorian style. Many of the lighting switches and the door knobs are original to the house. The front staircase is original as are the parlor doors. The lighting fixture in the yellow den is original to the house and was actually the fixture in what is now the dining room. The dormer windows above the doors are all original to the house. The claw-footed tub is also original to the house. Many original details remain in the property as little has changed since William Hughes built this house.
Michael and Kathy Dumont purchased this important property at an estate auction in October of 2015. Renovations are expected to begin in late February of 2016 with the property, the Commodore Inn at Clifton set to open in the Fall of 2017. The property will used for weddings, group meetings and functions, family reunions and available to those who want to experience the grandeur of the Victorian period.