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 the Bailey Hotel. Built sometime in the late 1800s or early 1900s, this hotel housed weary travelers. Dubbed the Bailey Hotel for its owner, Alfred Bailey, this establishment was run by his brother Frank Bailey until approximately 1909, when Sam Fisher, a local merchant, and hotelier, purchased the building and immediately began renovation work to add the most modern luxuries to each room.
Renamed to 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. However, the Town of Mount Hope experienced 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 Fisher. Forced to sell the property at a loss to the bank, Fisher not only lost 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 Sam 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 in order to build a three-story building in which they had planned to house their administrative 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 had purchased the land and erected 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 its 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 brought coal barons to the Cherry Creek Depot to discuss the coal market at the White Oak Coal Company. Hotel Mount Hope was a staple of the Mount Hope community, so much so that the town of Mount Hope would go on to 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 provided 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 Colonial style Mountainair Hotel, was capable of seating 250 guests in the banquet hall and was designed with 50 rooms, each with a private bathroom and telephone. Across the entire front of the building on the second floor was the Sun Room. There was an amply sized ballroom known as the "Golden Room" used as a banquet hall. 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 commissioned a series of renovations that were completed by the end of the year. Advertisements for the new hotel began 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 from the Beckley area to attend a grand opening and ceremony. Boasting about 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 its doors and became 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 businessmen and coal families alike. With its location on a main transportation route at the time, North/South State Route 211, the hotel found itself poised to become a premier stop in the region.
The Mountainair went on to house travelers from many different backgrounds. It was the gathering place for many civic organizations and became the primary place in Mount Hope for entertainment every weekend, such as live music and dancing. Laughter could be heard coming from the windows of the Gold Room, grand parties were held, and libations flowed freely in the great halls found in the hotel. The establishment continued to operate until the 1960s. After many decades of vacancy, Joyce and Harvey Cottle have begun renovating the building and returning it to use. The first floor is home to a coffee shop, salon, and community space. The second floor will become a ballroom and possibly office space. The third floor is currently used as a private living space.
Barker, Tyler. Couple breathes new life into Mt. Hope’s historic Mountainair Hotel, 4WOAY. November 12th 2019. Accessed May 21st 2021. https://woay.com/couple-breathes-new-life-into-mt-hopes-historic-mountainair-hotel/.
The Mountainair Hotel at Mount Hope, WV, Wandering Souls Paranormal. July 18th 2014. Accessed May 21st 2021. https://wanderingsoulsparanormal.weebly.com/our-investigations-blog/the-mountainair-hotel-at-mount-hope-wv.
Plummer, Sarah. Maryland couple buys Mount Hope's Mountainair, The Register-Herald. November 6th 2015. Accessed May 21st 2021. https://www.register-herald.com/news/maryland-couple-buys-mount-hopes-mountainair/article_fc77f369-65e1-5949-a87d-afdaf24d7d2a.html.
Taylor, David L. Mount Hope Historic District, National Register of Historic Places. January 1st 2007. Accessed May 20th 2021. http://www.wvculture.org/shpo/nr/pdf/fayette/07000785.pdf.
West Virginia & Regional History Center.
Marshall University, Rosanna Blake Library, Special Collections Department.
Charleston Gazette Feb.15, 1931, p.15
Charleston Gazette Feb.15, 1931, p.16
Charleston Gazette Feb.15, 1931, p.17
Charleston Gazette Feb.15, 1931, p.18
Charleston Gazette Feb.15, 1931, p.19.
Charleston Gazette Feb.15, 1931, p.20
Charleston Gazette Feb.15, 1931, p.21.
Charleston Gazette Feb.15, 1931, p.22.
Charleston Gazette Feb.15, 1931, p.23.
Beckley Post Herald Aug. 16, 1930, p.3.
Beckley Raleigh Register Dec. 20, 1938.
Beckley Raleigh Register July 16, 1930.
Beckley Sunday Register, Apr. 21, 1929, p.1.
Bluefield Daily Telegraph Dec. 20, 1938, p.1.
Beckley Post Herald February 3, 1931