Home Hotel guest Demolition of historic hotel in Harpers Ferry begins

Demolition of historic hotel in Harpers Ferry begins


HARPERS FERRY, W.Va. (AP) — The demolition of a crumbling historic hotel in West Virginia began this week, after more than a decade of legal battles.

Workers began dismantling and removing some of the structure and contents Wednesday at Harpers Ferry, project spokeswoman Margaret Brown said.

Hill Top House Hotel developer SWaN Hill Top LLC of Leesburg, Va., is planning a 129-room luxury hotel on the site, but the proposal has split the city.

SWaN purchased the hotel and several adjacent properties for $10 million in 2008. It planned to build the hotel and guesthouses nearby and expected overwhelming community support. But some Harpers Ferry residents found these plans out of character with the town’s personality.

The project recently managed to move forward after the state enacted a tourism law allowing the development of state-controlled tourist districts under certain circumstances, The Journal of Martinsburg reported.

The cost of the project is estimated at $150 million. The hotel is expected to open in 2024, Brown said.

Workers removed stone from the hotel for use in the new building, she said. The blue and black shale and limestone are specific to the region, Brown said. Other items removed for use in the project include flooring and furniture.

The 76-room hotel and lodge, which overlooks the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers, offers sweeping views of fall foliage and trains crossing bridges. The first hotel was built here in 1888. It was rebuilt each time after the fires of 1912 and 1919. The guest list included Mark Twain, Alexander Graham Bell, and Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Bill Clinton.

Harpers Ferry, with a population of just a few hundred, is also historic.

Settled in 1732, the town near West Virginia’s borders with Maryland and Virginia was the site of a failed raid by abolitionist John Brown that helped propel the nation into Civil War. It changed hands eight times between 1861 and 1865. In 1944 most of the town became part of the National Park Service. The Appalachian Trail crosses it.