While exploring Williamson, West Virginia you may notice there are some beautiful buildings lining the streets of the small town. One of the most beautiful spots in town is The Mountaineer Hotel. The mesmerizing Schonbek chandelier, impressive furniture, and cabinets of historical artifacts catch the eye of any visitor who walks through the front door. “It’s a treasure of Williamson,” said Dr. Donovan “Dino” Beckett, one of the hotel’s new owners.
The true treasure of the Mountaineer can be found in the 95-year history of the hotel. During the boom of the coal industry, Williamson served as a hub for all activity from mining to the railroad. With such high traffic coming through the area and the recent population growth, the city decided they needed to invest in a hotel as both a place for travelers and a place for public events. Funded through stock sales, the 1925 construction of the hotel cost $600,000 at the time which is around $8,000,000 in today’s world. The hotel was created in a neoclassical design by well-known architects of the time, Meanor and Handloser. Once the hotel was up and running it grew into its intended purpose perfectly with a constant influx of visitors and a thriving schedule of events ranging from cotillions to political rallies. During this time, the Mountaineer hosted numerous notable guests ranging from political leaders like President John F. Kennedy to musicians like Loretta Lynn and Jerry Lee Lewis. For a complete list of notable guests, click here! In the latter part of the 20th century, the coal industry started to dwindle and the Mountaineer Hotel turned into more of a railroad hotel rather than the thriving social and economic hub that it once was. The 1977 flood left the basement and lobby of the hotel completely encompassed in water. In 1995, Mark H. Mitchell purchased the hotel and took on the task of restoring it to the current state we see today.
With such a rich history and design, the hotel landed a spot on the National Register of Historical Places!
Today, the hotel has moved away from being reliant on the railroad. It now serves as a hub for trail riders and tourists who are looking for a place to stay. The hotel also receives a lot of attention from visitors who come by to see the historic Coal House and realize there is a whole other world of history right next door in the Mountaineer.
The new ownership and staff are another often overlooked treasure of the Mountaineer. In April of this year, Dr. Donovan “Dino” Beckett, Murphy Poindexter, and Jody Gooslin, all local businessmen, purchased the hotel. Along with new owners came Carrie Digman, the new General Manager. “It is a unique property. It provides something you won’t find in other cities,” Digman said in regards to the hotel. With such appreciation for the unique characteristics of the hotel, Digman enjoys working in the hotel’s environment, “No day is the same. Every day I get the opportunity to turn someone’s day around or make them smile.” This kind frame of mind spans across the hotel’s entire staff, “All the staff strives to provide the true hospitality that has been with this building since 1925,” Digman said.
The hotel currently offers 5 different room styles with complimentary wifi and television; amenities include mini fridges in each room, a game room, and kitchenette in the basement, free parking across the street, and event and conference space in the mezzanine. Owners and staff are currently working to open an in-house restaurant.
Focusing on the Future
With a great reputation and foundation to build on, the hotel is on its way to a successful future. Beckett said he hopes to see “expanded use and amenities that are important to guests.”
However, they also hope to expand the Mountaineer’s reach beyond their guests. Within recent months, the new owners and staff have aimed to revert back to the original function of the hotel as more than just a place to stay by opening up the hotel to events. Some of these recent events include graduation parties, birthday parties, live music, and church dinners. While these are small-scale, private events, bigger scale events are in the works such as a New Year’s Eve Party for the community.
Forward-thinking businesses like The Mountaineer Hotel are tapping into Williamson’s historic tourism potential, and it is with businesses and people like them that we can move Williamson forward.
If you’re interested in learning more about The Mountaineer Hotel or staying with them, check out their website!