A restoration of the George Wythe Hotel in Wytheville is expected to take a year, with the building’s owner saying he hopes for it to be finished by Thanksgiving 2012.
The 20,000-square-foot, four-story brick hotel was built in 1927 and originally featured 42 rooms, a full-service restaurant and a banquet hall. It closed in 1970 and has since been occupied by banks.
Bill Smith, who bought the building in December 2010, hopes to return the hotel to its former elegance and establish it as an anchor for downtown Wytheville. The hotel will have 30 larger rooms, as well as a restaurant and a banquet/meeting hall.
Here’s the full news release from Smith Enterprises:
Returning an historic downtown Wytheville landmark to the elegance of its past is expected to take at least a year. Some interior demolition at the George Wythe Hotel building on Main Street has been completed, including asbestos removal and tearing down several first-floor walls of the circa 1927 structure.
“My plan is to re-establish the George Wythe Hotel,” said Bill Smith of Smith Enterprises, who bought the property late last year. “We want to restore it to the original as much as possible.”
Built in 1927, the 20,000 square-foot four-story brick hotel featured 42 guest rooms, a full-service restaurant and a banquet room. It was also equipped with a canopied entrance from 1st Street.
Smith’s plan includes a reduction to 30 larger rooms. Ten will have king-size beds, 16 will have two queen-size beds each and there will be four suites.
The new hotel will bring back the restaurant and banquet/meeting room, too. The side entrance of the hotel will be covered by a canopy and accommodate two vehicles.
The initial demolition, Smith said, includes the removal of some of the walls and partitions added by previous bank tenants. Many of those walls were placed overtop the original ones, according to him.
The George Wythe Hotel closed circa 1970, according to Smith. Soon after that, the property was acquired by Bank of Speedwell which later became Premier Bank.
First Virginia Bank also occupied the building with BB&T buying it out. In October 2010, BB&T closed office there and moved employees to its two other branches in town.
In December 2010, Smith Enterprises bought the property. The company was undecided at the time what to do with the building.
“It’s a landmark,” Smith noted. “That’s what we do. We were fortunate to be able to do something like this. This way it will survive. I believe it will turn downtown around.”
He and his wife, Farron, are responsible for establishing the First Lady Edith Bolling Wilson Birthplace Foundation and Museum in another building they own in downtown Wytheville.
Before buying the hotel property, Smith hired a consulting firm from Florida to conduct a feasibility study of re-establishing the hotel. He was encouraged by the report that the venture would be profitable.
“We believe it will be successful,” Smith said. “We believe in downtown Wytheville. We hope the hotel will be an anchor for downtown.”
According to Smith, at least two management companies have expressed interest in operating the hotel/restaurant for him. He plans to select management soon.
Teresa King is a member of the Downtown Historic Wytheville Committee of the Wytheville-Wythe-Bland Chamber of Commerce. Her group promotes businesses and events in the downtown area.
“One of our goals as the downtown committee,” King pointed out, “is restoring buildings and bringing new businesses to downtown. We’re excited and can’t help but feel the restoration of the George Wythe Hotel will help to achieve the goal.”
Smith said he expects the renovations and repairs to take at least 12 months to complete.
“We’d like for it to be finished by Thanksgiving of next year” Smith said.