Hale spearheaded the effort to move the state capital from Wheeling to Charleston and also helped secure financing for the project. Shortly after being elected Mayor of Charleston in 1871, Hale began construction of the Hale House, a grand hotel intended to house state legislators during their stay in the capital. The hotel, which was the most expensive in the city at the time at $150,000, opened in January, 1872 and boasted:
100 bedrooms fitted up with elegance, a splendid office, bar and billiard room, barber shop and bathroom.2
After the hotel burned down in 1885, a new hotel was built on the site, owned by A.L. and Meredith Ruffner, who operated it until 1900. The new hotel was larger, containing at least 180 rooms.3
As an operational hotel until 1970, the Ruffner Hotel played witness to many key events of the last century. In 1913, for example, in the midst of the West Virginia Mine Wars, the famed union organizer Mother Mary Jones was arrested in Charleston and held in the Ruffner Hotel before being put on a train taking her into military custody.4
The hotel was torn down in 1970 to make room for the present parking lot.