Union troops slept here.
It seems those Yankees had headquarters all over town when they took Selma during the final days of the War Between the States. Back then, in 1865, the St. James Hotel was known as The Troupe House. Today, it is said to be the only existing antebellum riverfront hotel in the Southeast.
Between then and now, however, this structure was a bit of everything, including a tire-recapping company. A public/private partnership funded extensive renovation, and the structure reopened as a hotel in 1997. The ballroom, which opens onto a terrace overlooking the river, is used for parties, weddings, banquets and reunions.
While legend has it that outlaw Jessie James also visited here, I think its most interesting moment came during the "War of Northern Aggression" when the owner went off to fight. He left his slave, Benjamin Sterling Turner, in charge of the hotel. After the war, Turner opened a livery stable and became wealthy. In 1870, he was the first black Alabamian elected to Congress where he worked for amnesty for the Confederate leaders and civil rights for the black race.