PARKERSBURG - Workers have wrapped up exterior renovations to the Blennerhassett Hotel, including replacing a massive sandstone slab bearing the name of "Kaltenecker, " a nod to one of the men who built the building.
Built in the late 1880s, the Blennerhassett Hotel at Fourth and Market streets was intended to be called The Argyle, according to Cecil Childress, the hotel's general manager.
The five-story building was built and owned by W.N. Chancellor and J. Kaltenecker. Childress said the two men were business partners.
Photo by Jody Murphy
The restored sandstone nameplate as it appears today at the Blennerhassett Hotel.
"They started to build this hotel before they knew what they were building," he said.
The building was leased to George Campbell, and the Blennerhassett Hotel opened its doors in 1889.
The Blennerhassett was built when Parkersburg was booming from the oil and gas industry.
The city was a hub of activity, hosting businessmen and visitors from around the country. The hotel is registered as a national historical landmark.
Childress said Kaltenecker ended up walking away from the deal before the hotel opened. While Chancellor was the sole owner, Kaltenecker's name remained on a slab of sandstone more than 16 feet long above the third floor of the hotel.
Over time - more than 100 years - the sandstone and the name eroded. Childress said officials did research to find the name and had it restored to a new slab.
"We found the name and put it back on when we replaced the sandstone," he said.
Childress said the new sandstone costs about $10,000. Workers had to install it in three or four pieces.
"It was part of the wall itself," he said. "We were hoping to try to rework it, but the existing sandstone was so deteriorated we had to replace the whole thing."
The sandstone replacement was the latest restoration work for the hotel.
"We did all the brick work and were replacing and repairing the sandstone windowsills," he said.
In April, a two-ton porte-cochere (carriage porch) was placed over the hotel's front door to replace the awning. The new porch covers all the doors, better protecting guests from the elements. The new facade also includes lights, infrared heat and signage, all designed to the period of the hotel.
Keystone Waterproofing Inc. of Greensburg, Pa., is doing the exterior work. It is the same company that worked on cleaning and restoring the exterior of the Wood County Courthouse a number of years ago, Childress said.
Childress said the hotel will continue exterior renovations, but not this season.
"We have run out of season," he said.