Tatum's tavern/Tatum's Inn

Photo of W.M.H. Tatum accompanying Norfolk Journal and Guide article by Albert l. Hinton, "Life Story of Local Hotel Man Reads Like Horatio Alger Tale."

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Christmas Greetings , 1927

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1928 Sanborn Map of Norfolk showing location of Tatum's Inn (denoted by blue arrow) at intersection of E. Charlotte Street and Brewer Street.

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Known Name(s)

Tatum's tavern


453 Brewer St. Norfolk, VA

Establishment Type(s)

Inn, Tavern

Physical Status



The Charlotte Street Garage at 253 E. Charlotte Street now occupies the site of Tatum's Inn.

2023: Tatum's Inn was a three-story, brick building with 36 bedrooms on the two upper floors, and a lobby, dining room, studio, kitchen, laundry, and several storerooms on the ground floor (Hinton 1932).

Tatum's Inn was located at the southwest corner of Brewer Street and E. Charlotte Street. The building is depicted on Sanborn maps. When the area was redevelopment in the 1960s, Brewer Street was incorporated into a larger block. The Charlotte Street Garage now occupies the block where the inn was located. (D. McClane)

Detailed History

According to a descendant of William Tatum, he operated the Tatum's Inn and Grocery from 1938 until 1961 when it was demolished as part of the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Project's "revitalization" of downtown Norfolk. Many properties were confiscated to make way for public housing projects and tourist accommodations. The Tatums' family home was also demolished as part of the redevelopment. Their home stood across the street from what was once a temple of the late Daddy Grace. Tatum's Inn was located near present-day Scope Convention Center and Chrysler Hall. (Many thanks to Nadine Serels Tatum for this information). Tatum's Tavern was later Tatum's Inn. The 1946 Green Book issue lists this as Tatum's Inn. The ad says:

"Make this your home away from home. Open Day & Night. Rooms by Day or Night. Dining Room Service. W.M. Tatum, Prop."

The 1958 Green Book issue lists this as the Tatum Inn Hotel at 453 Brewer.

August 16, 1947 ad depicted to left courtesy of Brian Katen, Virginia Tech.

2023 (D. McClane): William M.H. Tatum was born in Belton, Texas on May 30, 1869. In 1918, he moved to Norfolk with his wife, Roxie (1870-1973). In 1926, Tatum purchased the former Winder House and refurbished it, opening Tatum's Inn on May 20, 1926. The hotel was quickly recognized as one of the finest in the city, noted by newspapers as "strictly first class and up-to-date" (NJG 1926). Mr. Tatum was described in news articles as a "prominent businessman and proprietor of Tatum's Inn," which was managed for a time by his son W. Clarence Tatum. The inn was favored by visiting football and baseball teams, theatre actors, and visiting clerymen (Hinton 1932). Mr. Tatum also operated a grocery store, located at 533-535 Cumberland Street (where his son clerked in the 1940s), and Tatum's Confectionery, as well as several apartment/rooming houses. One newspaper profile on Mr. Tatum stated that he had purchased and furnished "upwards of a dozen large rooming houses" that offered decent living accommodations at reasonable rates to "scores of poor families and numbers of unmarried young people" in Norfolk (Bowling 1927). The inn was home to the "Tatum's Inn Social Club."  Mr. Tatum was involved in numerous business enterprises and was a dedicated booster of the City of Norfolk.

Mr. Tatum's home was at 507 E. Freemason Street. He and Mrs. Tatum had four children: daughters, Mrs. Elizabeth T. Robinson (who later lived in Virginia Beach); Mrs. W.E. Tatum Warrent, of Stuhlenburg, Texas; and sons, W. Clarence Tatum (610 Cumberland Street) and W.H. Tatum, Jr. (836 Park Avenue).

Mr. Tatum served as a trustee of Sam Huston College in Austin, Texas for at least 16 years. It is not yet known if he was a graduate of the school, but his children were graduates and his niece, Miss Grace Brooks, graduated summa cum laude in 1927. The school is now known as Huston-Tillotson University and is a private, historically Black institution. For more see: https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/samuel-huston-college and https://htu.edu/about.

Mr. Tatum died on May 30, 1951. His funeral was held at St. John's A.M.E. Church and he is buried in Calvary Cemetery, Norfolk. Following his death, Mrs. Tatum continued to operate the hotel until 1961. She previously had assisted in the grocery store, providing homemade ice cream that always sold out (NJG 1972). Mrs. Tatum, who died at the age of 103, is buried beside her husband.

Sources: "Tatum's Inn to Have Opening Thursday," New Journal and Guide, May 15, 1926:7; "Tatum's Inn is Serving Well A Community Need," New Journal and Guide, Sep 25, 1926:7; Richard Bowling, "The Guide Post: Wm. H. Tatum," New Journal and Guide Jul 16, 1927:12; "Tatum's Inn is Host to Clery and Business: Luncheon Served with View of Closer Cooperation in the Community," New Journal and Guide, Feb 19, 1927:2; "W.M.H. Tatum Back from a 5,000 Mile Tour of Southwest," New Journal and Guide; Jul 16, 1927:2; Albert L. Hinton, "Life Story of Local Hotel Man Reads Like Horatio Alger Tale: W.M.H. Tatum Shown as a Very Astute Business Man," New Journal and Guide, Jul 23, 1932:7; "W. H. M. Tatum: Local Business Man, Passes," New Journal and Guide, May 19, 1951:D3; "Va. Beach Woman Feted On Her 102nd Birthday," New Journal and Guide, Jan 29, 1972:8.

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