HINTON W.Va. (Hinton News) – It is time for another edition of A Peek into Summers County’s Past. Each week, local history collector William Jones discusses pieces from his collection and their historical significance. This edition is all about The McCreery Hotel in downtown Hinton.
To open the dialog, Jones said, “In this week’s segment, I am discussing the various pieces I have acquired from The McCreery Hotel in Hinton over the years. I believe that everyone in Summers County and the surrounding area has some recollection of this iconic structure. It is the largest and tallest building in Summers County. And probably the most used point of reference in Hinton. I always hear either ‘near The McCreery Hotel’ or ‘on the street between the McCreery Hotel and the post office.'”
He goes on to describe the building’s beginnings. Jones stated, “It was constructed in 1907 but wasn’t completed until 1908. The Summers County history book by Judge Miller from 1908, ‘History of Summers County from the Earliest Settlement to the Present Time’ says that for $105,000 at the time and further describes it as ‘the greatest and costliest structure constructed in this time in the county.’ It was built by the Hinton Hotel Company and had 100 guest rooms.”
“It had private bathrooms with hot and cold running water in about one-fourth of its eighty rooms. It had what was called ‘handsome electric light fixtures’ in all of the rooms, which at that time was pretty unheard of as electricity, although it had been around for years, was just becoming more popular and reliable in our area at the turn of the century.”
Jones noted, “When it was first completed it was known as a leading hotel on the railroad’s main line, which extended from Washington, D.C. to Chicago, Illinois. Since Hinton was one of the railroad capitals of the region at that time, so to speak, the McCreery was the ‘stompin grounds’ of many of the nation’s political figures that were held in high regard and famous socialites. It was nominated and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984 because of its Greek Revival Style and its outstanding features, such as the original pressed tin ceilings, dentilled metal cornices, and medallion ornamentation, just to name a few of its fabulous features.”
“Summers County native Ken Allman started an incredibly successful business called PracticLink in St. Louis in the early 1990s. Their website describes it as, ‘Established in 1994. PracticeLink connects job-seeking physicians and advanced practitioners in all specialities with opportunities at more than 5,000 health systems, hospitals, medical groups and private practices,'” Jones said.
Continuing the narrative, Jones said, “Ken has been dubbed a ‘possibilitarian’ over the years, which is ‘someone who embraces an idea that there are always possibilities and potential solutions to any given situation.’ Loving his home as much as he did and realizing what all Hinton had to offer, he relocated PracticeLink offices to Hinton, West Virginia, in 1999. His first order of business was renovating the old Moose Lodge building to house his offices.”
“Then came purchasing The McCreery Hotel, which was in bad disrepair at the time and the painstaking and tedious work to restore it as historically accurate as possible. This detailed project continues to this day,” Jones said. “The first floor has been beautifully restored and is available for weddings, receptions, showers, etc. Then The Ritz Theatre was purchased and restored to its 1930s splendor, with an up-to-date sound and screen system, mind you. Some things are not feasible to keep as was during a historic restoration, and that is two of them.”
“Furthermore, MountainPlex Properties has acquired several other noteworthy buildings in downtown Hinton and the surrounding countryside. The Market on Courthouse Square, which is a casual dining restaurant, and Otter and Oak is a specialty shop that offers men’s and women’s clothing and accessories. It also has an artisan gallery and the recent addition of a coffee shop on the second floor. The Guest House Inn on Courthouse Square is a charming bed and breakfast. Plus several other businesses in this area.”
“MountainPlex Properties website sums it up by explaining that it ‘is a holding company dedicated to the restoration and sustainability of the Hinton Historic District in Hinton, West Virginia, a turn of the century boomtown on the mainline of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway and at the confluence of the New, Greenbrier & Bluestone Rivers.’ It is for this reason that Ken is so often described as a possibilitarian.”
Getting into the heart of the story, Jones stated, “Before I delve into this week’s local historic memorabilia, let me digress for just a moment. Everyone knows Ken’s mother, Rosemary and his sister Sheila Allman. I was asking Sheila a few questions in regards to this article, and she reminded me of a fascinating little piece of this puzzle. It turns out that Ken and Sheila’s parents met at Jack’s Restaurant, which is now The Market. And then proceeded to go on their first date at the Ritz Theatre. It is an odd yet beautiful happenstance that he now owns and operates successfully the two businesses in Hinton that brought his parents together.”
“As for the items in my collection that pertain to the McCreery Hotel, the key you see in the photo, to room number 11 reads on the brass tag ‘McCreery Hotel Hinton W. VA. 11 * 1908.’ I found this great piece while picking for treasurers at the Pence Springs Flea Market years ago. The other small round piece you see is a token from The McCreery Cigar Store that was on the first floor of the building on the left-hand side. Remember, this area saw railroad tycoons from across the country. And all men of such great stature always smoked a cigar while drinking a glass of brandy. This shop catered to their wants and needs whether they were staying at the hotel on business or there for pure enjoyment purposes.”
Jones continued, “Then comes the early receipts that you see. First, a 1922 receipt from L. W. Ratliff Plumbing, J. M Meador & Son General Insurance from 1917, Carden Hardware Company, 1917 E. M Meadows Furniture Company, 1918 Swift & Company receipts, 1919 The Independent-Herald. Hinton Insurance Agency & Co., 1917 The Hinton Foundry, Machine & Plumbing Co., 1917 The Hinton Water Light & Supply Company, 1917 The Hinton Construction Co., 1916 New River Grocery Company receipts, C. S. Upton Blacksmith and Wheelwright, 1917 and 1918 Hinton Milling Company receipts.”
Additionally, Jones noted, “1916 New River Hardware Company, Hinton Fruit & Produce Co. receipts, 1916 B. Heller & Company, 1914 and 1918 Chesapeake and Ohio Railway Company receipts, a 1917 and a 1922 Ratliff Brothers Plumbing, Heating and Roofing receipt, 1923 The C&O Lines Freight Bill, 1918 The Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company of West Virginia. 1914 W. T. Wagner’s Sons Artificial Mineral and Table Waters receipt and 1918 Official City Weight Ticket.”
“The last of the paper items is a 1922 letterhead for Hotel McCreery. It advertises ‘Long Distance Telephone in Every Room’ and ‘New building, modernly equipped American Plan.’ I also have one of the 1910s Arts and Crafts chairs that sat around the large oak columns in the lobby of the main hotel entrance. This is where the grand staircase once greeted the incoming guests. I purchased this attractive piece from one of Ashby Berkley’s auctions at his home in Pence Springs.”
To wrap up, Jones said, “This short list of receipts only gives a mere glimpse into the past of just how large and successful Hinton was at the turn of the century. Not only was the hotel ordering supplies to be built from businesses across the country. But Hinton itself had just about any type of business you could imagine at that time. Many of which, grew quite large and successful, just like the hotel did in its heyday. As for an old photo of the hotel, there are hundreds of photographs from the 1910s and even old postcards. But this photograph that was taken during John F. Kennedy’s campaign stop-off in Hinton on April 27, 1960, that shows the McCreery Hotel in the foreground has to be the most famous.”
This concludes another edition of A Peek into Summers County’s Past. Did you know about the McCreey’s history?
If you have a story from the area’s history to share, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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