In 1887, John Mckleroy was a partner in the Anniston Land Company, Confederate Veteran, State School Superintendent and a candidate for governor twice. He chose the highest hill on Quintard Avenue to build his home. The Victoria was built in 1888. Mckleroy died in 1894 and his widow continued to occupy the home. That is until William, her son and mayor of Anniston, moved her out while she was on vacation in Florida. He died six months later. The McKleroy family occupied the home for 25 years.
In 1920, William McKleroy’s widow sold the house at public auction to William Coleman Wilson. Wilson was president of the Emory Foundry Company. The business produced Anniston's most prominent product, cast-iron pipe. The Wilsons occupied the residence until 1949. Frank and Robbie Kirby became the third owners and last full-time residents. Mr. Kirby was the founder and president of Anniston Electric Company. Mrs. Kirby was a leading musician in the community and entertained guests in what is now know as the Victoria Lounge. After their deaths, the Kirby estate went into a trust for their sisters, the Methodist Church and the Children’s Methodist Home. A realtor contacted them with a creative idea, turning the mansion into a country inn. They loved the idea and sold the estate to a South Carolina developer in 1984. Anniston architect Julian Jenkins and contractor Earlon McWhorter designed and restored this Southern home.
The McKleroy Guestroom is the most Victorian of the main house’s bedrooms. It features antiques from the 1890’s when Anniston was a boom town, an iron mantle made in one of Anniston’s foundries,and a jetted claw-foot tub. The Wilson Suite is the largest of the bedrooms within the main house. It features the middle portion of the three-story turret and a half-canopied bed as well as an iron mantle painted to look like marble. The Kirby Suite displays the chintz and colors popular again today and includes a “modernized” bath and a closet once used as a dollhouse for visiting nieces. The restoration for Alabama’s first Country Inn took approximately two years. Because Anniston needed hotel rooms, the annex additions to the main house were creating twenty-six rooms in 1986 and eighteen in 1988. In 1996 McWhorter completed the final phase of The Victoria with an addition of twelve guest rooms. The Victoria has sixty rooms and a fine-dining restaurant, which can seat up to one hundred people.
In January 2009, McWhorter donated The Victoria to Jacksonville Stated University Foundation. The Foundation has contracted with Jackson Hospitality Services to manage the hotel. Future plans include using the hotel and restaurant as a teaching facility for JSU students going into the hospitality field.
The restaurant and hotel is believed to be haunted by at least one active spirit. Footsteps are heard coming from spots in the house where no one is found. Music emanates from the piano lounge when no one is in the room. The piano has even been seen playing on its own. Witnesses have reported seeing a female apparition on the upstairs landing. The sound of glasses clinking together has been heard behind the bar by staff and a few guest.
No one knows for certain who the spirit or spirits are haunting the property. However, The Victoria is good for a little fine dining, good entertainment, and maybe a ghost or two.