The Mountainair Hotel
Built in 1910 by the New River Company to house those who came to town to conduct business. Former names include Hotel Mount Hope and New River Hotel. Red brick likely added in the 1930s.
Backstory and Context
The Mountainair Hotel has a long history in the town of Mount Hope that predates the building itself. The land on which the Mountainair Hotel currently stands was once home to what was known as the Bailey Hotel. Built sometime in the late 1800s or early 1900s, this hotel would house weary travelers. Dubbed the Bailey Hotel for its name's sake, Alfred Bailey, this building would be run by his brother Frank Bailey until approximately 1909 when Sam Fisher, a local merchant, and hotelier, would purchase the building and immediately begin doing renovations and adding the most modern of luxuries throughout each room.
Renamed as The Fisher Hotel, it was anticipated to become equal to or greater known as an ancillary hotel known under the same name, in the adjacent town of Beckley, WV. The Town of Mount Hope would experience tragedy in the Spring of 1910 when a great fire ripped through town and destroyed everything along its path. Over 1,000 citizens were displaced, and a total value of $500,000 in property damage occurred in one night. One of the biggest losers of the evening was Mr. Fisher. Forced to sell the property at a loss to the bank, Mr. Fisher would not only lose the money he invested for renovations, but he sold the land back to the bank for the $15,000 required to purchase the building.
While the Fisher Hotel was a personal loss for Mr. Fisher, the land on which the hotel once stood was valuable for those looking to invest in this promising location. The Glen Jean Insurance Company acquired part of the land and would go on to build a three-story building in which they had planned to house their operations. A group of local businessmen, known as the Warner Company, purchased the adjacent tract of land in MacDonald and formed a company with the intent to create a new hotel. By the end of June in 1910, this group would purchase the land and erect the footers on the remains of the previous foundation, building what would become known as Hotel Mount Hope.
By the end of 1911, the hostelry would open it's doors to weary industrialists who would arrive at the bustling berg on business. At the beginning of 1910, the newly laid Kanawha, Glen Jean & Eastern Railroad would bring coal barons to the Cherry Creek Depot to discuss the coal market at the White Oak Coal Company. The Hotel Mount Hope was a staple of Mount Hope Community, so much so that the town of Mount Hope would go onto annex the largest region of MacDonald, Warner Town, in 1915.
As early as August of 1926, plans began to come together as the businessmen in town invested $60,000 towards an $85,000 revamp of the New River Hotel. Their investment would provide the capital for improvements on what is now known as the Mountainair hotel. In July of 1929, the Mountainair was nearing completion. Built as a convention center for the area, the Mountainair Hotel, designed in the Colonial Style, was capable of seating 250 guests in the banquet hall and was designed with 50 rooms, each having a private bathroom, as well as a telephone in each room. Across the entire front of the building on the second floor housed the Sun Room. There was an amply sized ballroom known as the "Golden Room" used as a banquet hall and coffee shop. Installed on the first floor was a coffee shop with a large fireplace constructed in the lobby. In 1930 the hotel was purchased by W.C. Griffith, operator of the Beckley Hotel. He would see that renovations would be complete by the end of the year. Advertisements for the new hotel would begin to appear in the Beckley Post Herald in February of 1931.
The Mount Hope Chamber of Commerce discussed the hotel, taking out full-page inserts to invite visitors to attend a grand opening and ceremony from the Beckley area. Boasting on the installation of new carpet in each of the rooms, the uncrating of furniture, and new curtains and draperies giving the hotel a homelike-air, the hotel was already promoting its prominence in the coalfields of Southern West Virginia. On Thursday, February 19, 1931, the Mountainair Hotel officially opened it's doors to being the Home of Hospitality and Business center of the Great New River Smokeless Coal Field. A nine-page section of the Charleston Gazette promoted the town of Mount Hope and the hotel in great detail, showcasing the many qualities and conveniences Mount Hope held for businessman and coal families alike. With its location on a main transportation route at the time, North/South State Route 211, the hotel would find itself poised to become a premier stop in the region.
The Mountainair would house travelers from many different backgrounds. It would be the gathering place for many civic organizations and became the place for entertainment such as live music and dancing almost every weekend. Laughter heard coming from the windows of the Gold Room, grand parties held, and libations swooned the great halls found in the hotel until one fateful evening in December of 1938, tragedy would once again befall the grand-hotel.
Streaming from the windows of the Golden Room was laughter from the grand parties where libations swooned the halls of the Mountainair. Until, one fateful evening, in December of 1938, tragedy would once again befall the grand-hotel.