The Hotel Prichard
Courtesy of James E. Casto, a postcard from the opening of the hotel in 1926.
The hotel in the 1950s. Many high school students remember attending proms and dances at the hotel.
A postcard for the Hotel Prichard.
A receipt from 1934.
Backstory and Context
Frederick C. Prichard was born in 1871 in Grayson, Kentucky. He achieved initial prosperity through working in the coal business in Fayette County, West Virginia. Later he and his wife Alice moved to Huntington where he became president of the Huntington Banking & Trust Co. In 1909 Prichard and businessman Houghton A. Robson constructed the first part of the Robson-Prichard Building on 9th Street (a second part was added in 1926). Today it is known as the Guaranty Bank Building.
Around 1925 Prichard began construction on a $1 million hotel building on Sixth Avenue. The Hotel Prichard was built in conjunction with a school for orphans the family had established in Ona, West Virginia. Frederick and Alice were strong supporters for the school due to the fact that the couple never had children themselves. The intention was for both institutions to support each other; the Hotel Prichard would generate revenue for the Prichard School, while the school’s farm could supply food for the hotel’s restaurant. The Hotel Prichard was completed and opened by 1926. The thirteen-story brick building was designed in the Neoclassical Revival style by Indianapolis architect Henry Zeigler Dietz. The hotel’s partnership with the Prichard School in Ona initially succeeded for the first couple years. In 1928, however, Frederick Prichard’s finances were severely damaged. He sold the hotel and other properties and moved to Texas, where he died in 1960.
Despite the loss of Frederick, the Prichard quickly developed a reputation as one of the top-tier hotels in Huntington. It initially contained 300 guest rooms –each with its own private bathroom– as well as a ballroom, a luxurious restaurant called the Hunt Club, and fourteen private dining rooms. John F. Kennedy and his family stayed at the hotel during his 1960 primary campaign. Other noted guests included singer and actor Gene Autry, and the 1956 cast of NBC’s Today show. According to Huntington: An Illustrated History, the Prichard was home to WSAZ, the city’s first radio station, from around 1926 to 1931. From 1939 to 1940 it housed the studio for the radio station WCMI, the second in Huntington. The Prichard was also for many years a popular site for hosting high school proms.
The Hotel Prichard closed in 1970 and was purchased by Polan Realty, which converted it into a mixed-use apartment and office building. The first floor also became home to several local businesses. By the 2000s the Prichard had become associated with crime and drug activity. Aging infrastructure and multiple fires also posed problems for the building. In 2014 Eddie James Ministries and Huntington’s Christ Temple Church partnered with Polan Realty to repurpose the Prichard as Hope Tower, a faith-based drug rehabilitation facility. Drug addicts could live in the building while also receiving treatment and education. The project was shuttered only a year later after city inspectors identified numerous building code violations and ordered the eviction of all tenants. In December 2016 it was reported that Christ Temple Church had acquired the Prichard and was in the process of renovating the structure. As of 2019 the church’s plans for the building had not been publicly released.
Beckett, Harry. “Sheaves of Loving Care: A History of the Prichard School.” Cabell County Doors to the Past. Accessed May 26, 2019. http://cabellcountydoorstothepast.com/history/prichard.htm.
Casto, James C. Huntington: An Illustrated History. Northridge, NC: Windsor Publications, Inc., 1985.
Casto, James C. “Lost Huntington: The Hotel Prichard.” Herald-Dispatch. August 17, 2015. Accessed May 26, 2019. https://www.herald-dispatch.com/lost-huntington-the-hotel-prichard/article_e9a0eae6-39ac-5b98-bcab-4a0c979f259d.html.
Gioulis, Michael. “Downtown Huntington Historic District (Boundary Increase and Additional Information).” National Register of Historic Places Registration Form. October 1, 2006. Accessed May 26, 2019. http://www.wvculture.org/shpo/nr/pdf/cabell/07000240.pdf.
Hardiman, Jean Tarbett. “Prichard Hotel owner aims to restore former glory of building.” Herald-Dispatch. October 4, 2009. Accessed May 26, 2019. https://www.herald-dispatch.com/business/prichard-hotel-owner-aims-to-restore-former-glory-of-building/article_c35a5b0a-abda-51db-ad48-af5e5e4025ae.html.
Nandy, Ben. “Tenants of Huntington’s Pritchard Building ordered to leave due numerous code violations.” WOWK. March 30, 2015. Accessed May 26, 2019. https://www.wowktv.com/archives/tenants-of-huntington-s-pritchard-building-ordered-to-leave-due-numerous-code-violations/865412928.
Pace, Fred. “Church plans historic renovation of downtown Prichard building.” Herald-Dispatch. December 18, 2016. Accessed May 26, 2019. https://www.herald-dispatch.com/business/church-plans-historic-renovation-of-downtown-prichard-building/article_7643f44c-7eaa-5d32-b4a4-13c7d696495a.html.
Pewitt, Rebekah. “The Prichard Building Becomes Hope Tower.” WSAZ. September 21, 2014. Accessed May 26, 2019. https://www.wsaz.com/home/headlines/The-Prichard-Building-Becomes-Hope-Tower-275946171.html
Ratcliff, Ann D. “Prichard House.” National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form. October 2000. Accessed May 27, 2019. http://www.wvculture.org/shpo/nr/pdf/cabell/01000261.pdf.