Wyoming Hotel Has A Rich History | State and region
During King Coal’s reign, Mullens was in full swing, and the Wyoming Hotel offered luxurious accommodation in its 68 rooms and a stylish escape in the dining / ballroom seating up to 250 people.
The city’s posh landmark has hosted historical visitors who are said to have included US Senator John F. Kennedy on his White House campaign trail, Franklin Roosevelt Jr., UMWA President John L. Lewis, Babe Ruth, world heavyweight boxing champion, Jack Dempsey, among many senators, congressmen, governors, judges, railroad tycoons, coal barons and commercial travelers.
Standing empty since the mid-1970s, the old hotel caught the attention of the Mullens Community Development Corporation, which set out to restore the once majestic structure to its former grandeur.
“I remember going there when I was little,” recalled State Senator David “Bugs” Stover, R-Wyoming, who is a well-known historian and storyteller. “It was really elegant. There seemed to be marble everywhere and I remember those huge chandeliers being everywhere.
Stover said the hotel has also had a barber shop, beauty salon, bank and many other businesses over the years.
“There were always stories about a lot of poker happening on the top floor,” Stover said.
“People with money came from all over Wyoming County and other places to play. Sometimes the game lasted a week. Supposedly, everything stopped after someone was shot there, ”he said.
Carolyn Wilcox, president of the Mullens Community Development Corporation, also remembers visiting the hotel as a child.
“It was so big,” Wilcox recalls. “Of course, when you’re a kid, everything looks great.”
Wilcox recalls going to the hotel to have her photo taken by Olan Mills, a private portrait photography company founded in 1932.
“I still have some of those photos,” she said.
“Everything (in the hotel) was so nice, and it was so elegant. I remember taking the elevator. They had a man operating the elevator and going with you, ”Wilcox said.
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Wyoming’s first hotel, under construction in 1918 by John C. Sullivan and other investors, was destroyed by fire on August 12, 1919, along with many other buildings in the city.
Sullivan and the other owners began to rebuild after the fire. However, instead of the six floors originally planned above ground, they only built five, historian Jack Feller (1922-2013) said in the first volume of his “Memories And Photos of” book series. Mullens, West Virginia “.
“The Wyoming hotel was not full at the time of this fire (1919),” according to Feller. “A source said that at that time the hotel was an interior frame construction covered with brick on the sides and back. The facade was in double brick.
“Viola Blankenship said she was at school and they watched the fire from the cliff overlooking the town.
“The fire burned down all of the frame stores in the First Street and Howard Avenue block. It then spread to the Wyoming hotel and the interior burned like a furnace, ”she said.
“After a while, the back of the hotel fell into the river.
“The river was 20 feet or more deep there with a sandy beach. It was the favorite and popular swimming spot as well as the best place to fish, ”Feller wrote in the book.
Dr Robert Shumate caught an eight-pound blue catfish there around 1920, according to a 1963 Beckley Post-Herald story.
The hotel’s certificate of incorporation was dated July 31, 1919 and showed the shareholders as John C. Sullivan, of Tralee; AW Daubenspeck, Mullens; DD Moran, Mullens; D. Forest Early, Beckley; and Dr WL Hunter, Tralee.
The certificate authorized $ 250,000 in shares. The five named owners each had one or more shares, Feller said.
Construction on the hotel began prior to incorporation because the date shown on the building’s facade is 1918, Feller noted.
Water tanks were installed on the roof and pumped water from the well under the building or from the Guyandotte River at the back of the hotel, Feller said.
Fire hoses were installed with “the water supply through a vertical pipe to each floor,” Feller wrote.
Wyoming County’s first passenger elevator – the last Otis elevator – was installed in the building.
After being fitted with the latest modern furniture, the inauguration took place in December 1920.
On December 23, 1920, a fire originating in the heating system of the coal-fired furnace in the basement caused enough damage to cause the cancellation of the Christmas and New Year’s celebrations planned in the ballroom.
For many years the hotel has been the center of social events in Mullens and the surrounding area.
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Designed by renowned architect Alexander “Alex” Blount Mahood (1888-1970), the five-story structure was built in an “H” shape near the confluence of the Guyandotte River and Slab Fork Creek.
Mahood was born in Lynchburg, Virginia, and completed his professional training at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris.
In 1912 Mahood came to Bluefield to oversee the construction of the Law and Commerce Building, where he established his architectural practice in the penthouse.
According to historians, he designed and built some of the most impressive structures in the Mountain State, including the circular Creative Arts Center at West Virginia University and the 12-story West Virginian Hotel in Bluefield.
He also designed the Itmann Company store, the Mercer and Raleigh counties courthouses, as well as schools, colleges and office buildings, among others.
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At 70 feet tall, the building remains the tallest in Wyoming County, Wilcox said.
Part of the Mullens Historic District, the hotel was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on November 16, 1993.
The brick structure also included the lobby, a huge dining / ballroom, five commercial bays and a bank on the first floor, with a mezzanine on the second floor that encircled the lobby with social rooms, as well as an under-floor. ground.
Over the years, various businesses have been housed in the hotel, including a cafe, pharmacy, barber shop, beauty salon, shoe repair, Wyoming Rent Control Office, and Mullens Credit Bureau. .
For several years the city fire siren / alarm has been installed on the roof of the hotel.
On the top three floors were the guest bedrooms that shared a bathroom on each floor, according to Feller. The cost of $ 1 per night for rooms remained in place until the late 1930s.
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The entrance consists of two concrete pilasters attached to either side of the main entrance on which is located a glazed oval arched transom.
The windows are 2 of 2 sash and rest on mortar sills, according to the National Register of Historic Places application.
A decorative lowered masonry cornice accentuates the upper façade of the building and consists of scroll-shaped modillions attached to a fascia and masonry indentations are located directly below the modillions.
A large red neon sign, weighing around 400 pounds, has been installed above the main entrance, according to Feller.
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When Sullivan went bankrupt in 1925, the hotel was bought by Shenandoah Life Insurance of Roanoke, Va., Then sold to Beckley Newspapers owner MH Hodel in the 1940s, and later to Sam and Nelva Webster of Mullens, according to historians.
The Websters’ son, Samuel E. Webster, now donates the building to the city.
The Mullens Community Development Corporation, a non-profit organization made up of current and former residents, is working to restore the historic structure.
Wilcox is president; Mayor Jenny Ann Martin, vice-president; Marcia Catron, Treasurer and members of the Board of Directors include Webster, Audra Blackwell and Mark Blackwell.
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For over a century of history, the building has been the center of a wide variety of events and activities.
In the wee hours of March 17, 1936, the hotel’s night porter sounded the alarm about a fire of unknown origin at the Hub’s Palace, a grill, which was part of the hotel building. About fifty guests were evicted from the building.
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In 1946 and again in 1952, John J. Woods of Centralia, Pa., Who called himself “The Human Fly,” scaled the 70-foot building. The 1952 climb was sponsored by the Mullens Police Department, which received 20% of the money donated by observers, according to the Raleigh Register.
Before descending, Woods balanced himself on his head after reaching the top of the building. With Coca-Cola as a corporate sponsor, he also likely drank a Coke while standing on his head, according to stories told by his daughter, Rose.
At the time of his visit in 1952, Woods claimed to be 55 years old and to have climbed 11,000 buildings, the tallest of which was 42 stories in Seattle, Washington. He was in fact 63 years old.
Woods was born in Atlanta, Georgia. He started playing like a human fly when this kind of act of entertainment became popular around 1906, according to historians.
He added his wife, Evelyn Peschel, to his act; then her daughter, Rose, at the age of 1, carrying them on her shoulders around the tops of buildings.
In 1969, Woods disappeared and no one has ever heard of him again. His wife had him declared dead, then remarried, according to historians.
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In January 1950, the Detroit Clowns, a traveling basketball team that mixed acrobatic shooting and professional ball handling with comedic antics similar to the Harlem Globetrotters, faced the Mullens Moose Lodge.
The previous summer, the team played baseball with the Mullens Braves.
The Clowns were on tour in the Northeast, including New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and stayed at the hotel during their local visits.
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In November 1962, the hotel’s basement was considered the only suitable fallout shelter by the Mullens Planning Board. Other locations had to be adapted, according to an article in the Raleigh Register.
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During the March 1963 flood, hotel staff reported that the water was a foot from the top of the basement wall.
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On September 25, 1974, the hotel’s furnace exploded, but there were no injuries. The amount of damage was not known at the time of the Raleigh Register story.