Wednesday, February 11, 2009

"The name Hotel Sterling has been suggested in honor of the lady whose intelligence and energy conceived the plan and, in large measure, brought it to a successful conclusion."

Hotel Sterling History
From Music Hall to Hotel

May 3, 1893

Odds and Ends of Things of Local Interest and Otherwise
For some time it has been rumored that the owners of Music Hall intend at the close of the present season, to begin an extensive remodeling of the dramatic temple which is imbued with so many pleasant memories. Indeed it has been a matter of deep concern with them as to whether the best results would not follow a complete revolution of the interior.

It is known that one of the principal owners, Mrs. Sterling, has always been in favor of remodeling the hall, and since a rival hall has come into existence, her ideas in this respect have been strengthened. The alterations involve lowering of the auditorium to the first floor, leaving the gallery where it is and transforming a portion of the present main floor into a balcony. The entrance will be on River Street. Certainly, if these ideas materialize Music Hall will be converted into one of the largest, safest and handsomest theatre in the State, and it may be depended on to get its full share of business.

Wilkes-Barre is bound to increase in population wonderfully from now on, and it is by no means uncertain that two theatres will not hold their own as well as one in the very near future. The suburban electric lines are rapidly educating out of town people to an appreciation of the drama, and they have already become prominent factors in the success of amusement ventures here, which largely develop with the passage of time. (Wilkes-Barre Times - Newspaper Article)

December 21, 1896
Probable New Hotel. May be Erected on the Music Hall Site

W. S. Wells, the well known aged resident of this city , who lives on North River street in the residence next to Music Hall, has been approached by a wealthy gentlemen and prominent citizen who offered a fair price for the house and lot. Both are satisfied with the price but Mr. Welles wants one-fifth of the purchase money in cash and desires that the rest be placed against the property as a land mortgage, an arrangement the prospective purchaser does not like.

Mr. Welles, whose lot is 50 x 170 feet, does not believe that he would be offered such a sum if his place was wanted as a residence and thinks that the parties interested intend also purchasing the Music Hall block and building a fine hotel not unlike the Hotel Jermyn at Scranton. It is understood that the Music Hall property is for sale. A modern hotel would be received with delight by everybody and the negotiations above referred to are probably the first steps to the erection of a hotel which will be a credit to the city and valley. (Wilkes-Barre Times - Newspaper Article)

January 8, 1897
Wilkes-Barre's New Hotel It is to be Located at West Market and River.
Hurried Description of the Elaborate Plans by Architect Hawkins
Meeting Held Last Night
In its second edition last evening the "Times" gave details of the plans for the reconstruction of the Music Hall block with necessary additions on North River street for a new and modern hotel. The matter was referred to several weeks ago, and since then mention was made of the fact that certain parties had been negotiating for the purchase of Judge Wells' property adjoining Music Hall on North River street. It yesterday came out that the parties connected with the scheme were the owners of Music Hall - Andrew Hunlock, Eugene C, Frank, Benjamin Reynolds and Mrs. Emma G. Sterling, widow of the late Walter G. Sterling, who with the late S. L. Thurlow built Music Hall in 1870.

Plans for the new structure by J. W. Hawkins, of this city and the perspectives show a most imposing building. The West Market street frontage will be 105 and on North River street of 114 feet. There will also be a wing in the rear 40 feet deep by 40 feet wide for kitchens, machinery, etc. An alley will also be left on the North River street side between the hotel and the Rutter residence and it will be ten feet wide.

The new hotel will be seven stories high and it will have 176 rooms, 25 or 30 of which will be suite apartments. The value of the hotel and land will be $250,000 and the hotel, exclusive of land will be worth about $140,000.

Mr. Hawkins, the architect was at Mrs. Sterling's residence last evening and explained the plans to Isaac Lolles, J. A. Schmitt, W. E. woodruff, Charles Stegmaier, Andrew Hunlock, Col. Asher Miner, C. T. Long, Philip Forve, Peter Forve, Liddon Flick, W. C. Shepard, H. H. Harvey, C. G. Gunster and W. H. Conyngham and numerous others and all besides being delighted with the drawings predicted that the venture will prove a paying investment. Those interested are encouraged by the fact that they have already received numerous communications from prominent hotel men in the country offering to lease the proposed building agreeing to pay therefor rentals reaching from $15,000 to $18,000. In addition to this rental for the hotel the returns from the venture would be further augmented by the rentals from the stores which would bring a a handsome figure.

An examination of architect Hawkins drawings of the interior of this proposed structure shows that when completed Wilkes-Barre for her size will have a hotel second to none in the country. As described in yesterday's second edition of the "Times" the office will be located on the first floor entrance from West Market street. It will be 34 x 57 feet in dimension and surrounded by a dozen stately columns surfaced with handsome marble. The columns will support the walls of the interior court.

The reading room will be at the corner of West Market and North River, will be 21 x 40 feet in size and will be reached from the office by a short stairway. The waiting room comes next on the River Street side and is on the same level with the reading room.

The woman's entrance will be on River street, next adjoining what will be known as the main dining room, the latter opening from the main office door. This main dining room will be 38 feet 6 inches by 79 feet 6 inches in size.

In addition to the rooms described there will be the usual complement of offices for clerk and manager, main office, vaults, barroom, smoking room, etc.

On the second floor will be a large rotunda surrounded by a gallery faced with handsome grill work. From this gallery opens the ladies' parlors and reception rooms. From this the porch or loggia on the River street side is also reached. The finest apartments will also be on this floor, and conveniently located will be three handsomely lighted sample rooms. These will be especially equipped with counters etc., on which visiting salesmen may exhibit their wares.

This floor and the floor above will be provided with a dozen bedrooms the average size will be 15 x 21 and 10 x 15 feet. A large number of rooms will be so arranged that during the main business of the year or during convention times the beds may be doubled and two beds may be placed in each room. These additional beds may be taken out at will. This arrangement is considered by the average hotel proprietor much better than a large number of smaller rooms, capable at any time of accommodating only one bed.

The fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh floors will have bedrooms on the same plan from 15 x 18 to 9 x 12 feet in size. All rooms without exception will be lighted by means of outside light which is a great achievement of the architect. There will be no inside rooms and only two bathrooms will be without window, light and air.

Dumbwaiters and elevators run from the basement on the latter floor being also located a storage room, butcher shop, laundry, dynamos, engines, refrigerating apparatus and elevator machinery, dining room for male help, cloak rooms for waiters, baggage and men's toilet rooms.

The boilers will be in a place prepared for them in back yard and will be covered by iron and brick work paved with asphalt.

The passenger elevator will run from the first to the seventh floor.

It is not the intention of the projectors of the new hotel scheme to tear down the walls of the Music Hall. They have been thoroughly examined by expert builders who say they are as solid today as when originally erected twenty-six years ago. But according to the plans of Mr. Hawkins they are not to be left in their present state but will be so remodeled and brought up to date as to be hardly recognizable as the same. It is proposed to veneer the West Market street and North River street walls of Music Hall block with granite solidly anchored so as to be absolutely safe and the walls of the additional stories will be of brick with handsome terra cotta trimmings of a color to harmonize nicely with the granite facings. Imposing dormers, in the form of a pyramidal roof will rise above the upper or seventh story.

The building will be fire proof throughout. Iron construction work is to be built in addition to the old Music Hall walls so that the building will not only be safe for a few years, but practically for all time to come.

Located at the corner of West Market and river street it will afford an inspiring view up and down the Susquehanna which backed by the western mountains will make a romantic study from nature such as is supplied the guests of few hotels in the country. There are no finer views during the summer than those seen along the Susquehanna, and the "Times" ventures the prediction that this feature will attract many hundreds of guests to the new and magnificent hostelry every summer. This charming feature added to the magnificent drives of this locality - the Bear Creek boulevard; the proposed boulevard along the river; the trip up the West side; down the East side to Askam and return by way of the golf links of the Country Club; and many others, not to speak of the trip over the Traction system and the charming inducements offered the touring wheelmen and wheelwomen by Wilkes-Barre on miles of asphalted street and rides through the shady nooks of the suburbs - all these will contribute their substantial share toward the monetary success of the great hotel scheme.

The complaint will no longer be made by the better class of travellers that while they prefer to remain here they cannot do on account of the unsatisfactory hotel accommodations, and are sometimes compelled to go to Scranton, allured hither by the engaging hospitality of the Hotel Jermyn, whose praise have been sung so repeatedly and enthusiastically here in Wilkes-Barre as to have become monotonous. (Wilkes-Barre Times - Newspaper Article)

January 16, 1897
The New Hotel.

It is a Sure Go - to be Built by Local Capital
From early and inside information The Times is able to state that the new hotel which it is proposed to erect at the corner of River and West Market streets has so far progressed as to render its construction a fact beyond reasonable doubt. All the tenants of Music Hall block were this morning notified by the powers to vacate upon the termination of their present leases April first.

It will be one of the handsomest hotel buildings in the State and will be built practically upon the lines of the plans prepared by Architect J. H. W. Hawkins, a cut of the exterior and first floor plan of which were published in the Times of January ninth. These plans are now on public exhibition in the handsome show windows of B. G. Carpenter & Co. where they have been much admired.

The hotel will be built by a stock company and will cost, when complete including the real estate, $300, 000, which will be represented by $150,000 stock and $150,000 five per cent first mortgage bonds. A number of the progressive and enterprising capitalists of this city have already assured subscriptions sufficient to ensure its being a go . (Wilkes-Barre Times - Newspaper Article)

February 11, 1897
Who Will Name It

Now that the new hotel is an assured fact it is in order to select a name for the structure. It will be a handsome stately building surpassing Scranton's boasted Hotel Jermyn in architectural beauty, and is worthy a dignified title.

Hotel Sterling has been suggested in honor of the lady whose intelligence and energy conceived the plan and, in large measure, brought it to a successful conclusion. For these reasons, this would be an appropriate and suggestive name. There are some, also, who think the name should be one suggestive of the early history of Wyoming Valley, one that, when mentioned, would at once suggest its location and character.

In order to ascertain the view of the people on this subject the "Times" will be glad to receive and print any suggestions on the subject.

The building should have a name worthy of its location and character, one that will be pleasing to hear and easy to keep in mind, a name historical, euphonious and terse. (Wilkes-Barre Times - Newspaper Article)

February 25, 1897
New Hotel Contract Let. And the Work of Demolition of the Old Building Will Commence April First
The building committee of the new hotel, which is to be erected at the corner of River and West Market streets on the site of the Music Hall block, today let the contract for its erection to be the firm of W. H. Shepard & Sons of this city.

The work of demolition of the old building will commence soon after the first of April and it is hoped to have the new structure completed by New Year's in time for the next annual Assembly.

Messrs. Shepard & Sons have erected some of the largest and best buildings in this city, notably the Methodist and First Presbyterian churches, the Y.M.C.A. building, the Jonas Long building and many stores and private residences. They are first-class builders and hustlers as well and the management is to be congratulated that the work of building is in such excellent hands. (Wilkes-Barre Times - Newspaper Article)

February 26, 1897
The New Hotel
Some of the Names Suggested by Readers of the Times
When it became a certainty that the new hotel was to be built at the corner of West Market and North River Street, the "Times" invited its readers to suggest a name for it. The response to this request has been quite liberal, showing that Wilkes-Barreans generally take a warm interest in the hotel project.

Since the "Times" invited these suggestions the following names have been received:

The Susquehanna Hotel; Hotel Anthracite; The Anthracite Rivera; Hotel Sterling; Hotel Susquehanna; The New Century; The Keystone; Hotel Ganoga; River Side; Hotel de Sterling; Hotel Farragut; The Phoenix; The Gertrude; The Waldergrave; and The Parrish.

Four "Times" readers voted for the Riverside, Anthracite and Susquehanna; three for Hotel Sterling; two for Hotel Hollenback, all others in the above having one vote each. (Wilkes-Barre Times - News Article)

May 10, 1897
The New Hotel Begun.
Work of Demolition Commenced Today
Will be Completed May 1, '98
After months of hard labor on the part of the enterprising new hotel projectors in perfecting arrangements for the commencement of the structure, the first manual labor in connection with the enterprise was begun this morning when about forty men in the employment of Contractor W. H. Shepard & Son began the demolition of the old Welles residence on North River Street adjacent to the Music Hall block. The few skeptical people who heretofore have been a little incredulous of the new hotel's ever materializing were today relieved of the last vestige of doubt when the first brick was removed.

The tearing down of the old Welles homestead is expected to consume about three days after which the excavation will be commenced for the erection of the walls. The excavation will take about ten days. The Times is informed today by one of the leading spirits of the project that it is proposed to begin tearing out Music Hall on Wednesday or some time this week at the latest. Of course the Music Hall block will not be entirely demolished, as it is still a stable structure, portions of which are available for the hotel building, but it will be reconstructed, remodeled and added to, as mentioned in the Times at the time the plans were described. (Wilkes-Barre Times - News Article)

May 14, 1897
The Bust of Shakespeare. President by Mrs. Sterling to the Press Club To-Day
Mrs. Emma E. Sterling to whose enterprise Wilkes-Barre will be indebted for its magnificent new hotel today presented to the Press Club of this city the large bust of William Shakespeare, which for thirty years was an attractive feature of the old proscenium arch at Music Hall. The figure is much larger than a casual observer would suppose being over three feet in height. It is carved out of wood by hand, as was all the ornamentation about the arch referred to and the private boxes, and from the fact that nearly all such work is now formed out of either galvanized iron or papier mache, serves to show what progress has been made in that line of ornamentation in the past quarter of a century.

The Shakespeare bust is to be nicely mounted and set up in a conspicuous place in the Press Club rooms, where it will doubtless be greatly admired for many years come. The gift is considered by the newspaper men one of great value and they feel deeply indebted to Mrs. Sterling for it.
(Wilkes-Barre Times - News Article)

July 2, 1897
The New Hotel. Its Projectors Have Decided to Build the Front of Stone
The original intention of the projectors of the new hotel now in course of erection at the corner of West Market and North River Streets was to build the fronts on those streets of brick, but they have decided in favor of stone and have selected Forest City and Indiana limestone for that purpose.

The Forest City stone is off a delicate color, the same as that being used in the new St. Stephen's Church. The trimmings will be of Indiana limestone which is also a prominent feature of the church referred to.

The masons are making good progress with the foundation walls of the hotel on North River street, and the work is being watched with a great deal of interest. (Wilkes-Barre Times - News Article)

May 4, 1898
The New Hotel Leased
To Messrs Stokes and Reist, Widely-Experienced Hotel Men
The Former of Baltimore and the Latter of York, Pa.
Lease is for a Term of Ten Years
The Lessees Delighted with Wilkes-Barre
Will Open August 1
After considerable negotiations the large new hotel on the corner of West Market and River street was today leased for a term of ten years to W. A. Reist, of York, Pa., and Sylvanus Stokes, of Baltimore, Md. Messrs. Reist and Stokes left for their homes this afternoon after signing the lease, but they will return next week to superintend the fitting up of the interior preparatory to the opening which will not be until about March 1.

Both Mr. Reist and Mr. Stokes are men of life-long experience in the hotel business. The former is now landlord of the Colonial, the new fire-proof hotel of York, Pa. and Mr. Stokes is present proprietor of the Butaw House, Baltimore, Md. and is also a heavy stockholder in the Monticello, the new hotel of Norfolk, Va., which is one of the finest hostelries in the South.

A TIMES reporter this afternoon talked with Mr. Reist at the Valley House before he and his partner left town. Mr. Reist is 34 years of age, quite tall and is a type of the successful landlord - affable, genial and of the most pleasing address. That he is a hotel man of exceptional success is proved by the fact that he assumed charge of the Colonial Hotel of York four and one half years ago, after two had failed and he made the hotel one of the best-paying, most sucessful and most satisfactory houses in the State.

"I am more than delighted with Wilkes-Barre and Wyoming Valley", said Mr. Reist. "I can say withouit any exaggeration that I never before came in contact with peopl;e so affable, so hospitable or possessed of such chrming and taking manners as the people of this city. I had been in town but a very brief while before I felt entirely at home and the delightful nature of the people was strongly impressed uponme almost immediately. When I came here it was simply with the intentin of looking the new hotel over - not with any definite determination to lease it. But I as well as Mr. Stokes, have been completely carried away by the town and its people and the result is that we have leased the hotel."

"The beauty of Wyoming Valley " continued Mr. Reist "is justly farfamed. Nobody could fail to be charmed by its beautiful centre - Wilkes-Barre. The site of the new hotel is especially attractive fronting as it does on the river. This feature, in conjunction with the fact that the hotel is first class in every particular, makes it almost certain that the house will prove a successful investment. I think the hotel is one of the most thorough and best-constructed in the State."

"What will be the nature of the furnishings?" was asked.

"While we have not finally decided as to the furnishings" replied Mr. reist, "It is quite certain that they will consist of oak, cherry and mohogany and that theyu will be strictly first class. The carpets will be of the finest velvets. It is our intention to purchase the furnishings from houses in this city where we can do so without any disadvantage to ourselves. We expect to receive bids for the furnishinghs. Everything in connection with the hotel will be up-to-date and A1, including, of course, the service."

"On what plan will the hotel be run and what will be the rates?"

"It will be on the American plan and the rates will be from $2.50 to $3 a day."

"What will be the name of the hotel?"

"We have discussed this matter a good deal but as yet we have not fully decided upon what it should be called. It is very probable, however, the it will be christened The Sterling. This name seems generally favored."

"As a business centre, what is your opinion of Wilkes-Barre?"

"I think it is the best of any city this size in the State, as I believe Wyoming Valley is the richest in Pennsylvania." (Wilkes-Barre Times - News Article)

June 3, 1898
It is "The Algonquin."
The New Hotel Has Been So Named by the Directors

The board of directors of the new hotel company met late yesterday afternoon and decided to call the new hotel "The Algonquin". This selection proves a surprise to many who thought it would be christened in accordance with one of the names which were suggested in the newspapers. It gives general satisfaction however.

Mr. Hunlock says that it was the predominant opinion among the members of the board that the hotel should be named after one of the early tribe of Indians which made this valley their home. "The Algonquin" was unanimously selected from a long list of suggestions among which were Hotel Durkee, The Arlington, Monticello, Riverside, The Sterling, Colonial, Colonnade, Susqehanna, Anthracite, Westmoreland, Mocanaqua, Luzerne and others.

The contracts for the furnishing of the hotel, so far as given out, are as follows: Voorhis & Murray, furniture; Isaac Long, Levy Bros. and Jonas Long Sons, carpets, bedding, linen, etc.; F. M. Kirby, glassware, silverware, etc. (Wilkes-Barre Times - News Article)

July 9, 1898
Sterling Hotel
Name of the New Hostelry Changed To-Day
The Directors Hold a Meeting This Afternoon and Comply With the Wishes of Stockholders
At a meeting of the directors of the palatial new hotel erected at the corner of West Market and River streets this afternoon it was decided to change the name from Algonquin to the Sterling.

This decision was arrived at after a canvass of the stockholders. Each of the latter had received a circular which read as follows:

Dear Sir - There seems to be some dissatisfaction with the name Algonquin for the new hotel. Please state your preference of the following three names:

Algonquin; Arlington; Sterling

"Draw a line through the two you reject, leaving your choice unmarked".

The meeting was held in the office of Attorney Andrew Hunlock this afternoon where the replies were opened and the result constrained the directors to call the new hotel The Sterling, that being the choice of a majority of the stockholders.

Mr Hunlock announced the fact of the new name to a TIMES man this afternoon and says that the lessees Messr. Stokes and Reist are pleased with the new name.

The work of completing the new building is progressing rapidly and it will probably be opened soon after August 1st. (Wilkes-Barre Times - News Article)