N&W in 1908--Bluefield Inn

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Tue Dec 9 08:28:04 EST 2008

Bluefield Daily Telegraph
November 19, 1908

Structure so Long a Landmark to be Used as an Office Building by the Norfolk and Western

The Bluefield Inn, which has so long been a landmark in this city and has been noted for about twenty years as the leading, and for a part of the time as the only hotel in the city, is to lose its standing with the traveling public. It will cease to be a hotel after the first of April. The Norfolk and Western railroad company has decided to make use of the structure as an office building. It has been reported a number of times that the railroad company would use the hotel for this purpose, but until lately there has at no time been a great demand for the building. Now the Norfolk and Western has offices in the Kelly & Moyer building and several offices in the old First National Bank building, in addition to the superintendent's office. The inconvenience caused by this scattering of offices is the primary cause of the arrangement by which the company will take over the hotel building at the expiration of Mr. Marah's current lease.
The plan of the offices has not yet been made public, but it is learned on the best authority that the offices of the general superintendent, Geo. P. Johnson; Superintendent W. S. Becker and his entire force, assistant Superintendent W. M. Dawson and his force, the chief dispatcher, the car distributors, the car allotment commission, and the dispatchers will all be moved into the Inn shortly after the first of April. The new arrangement will work for the betterment of the force, whose work it will curtail in many ways as at present a great deal of messenger work has to be done at a great loss of time. All of this will be remedied by the change.
The Bluefield Inn was built by the railroad company probably a score of years ago, when the town was but a village with only a house here and there as far as the eye could see. The plot of land which is at present known as the Red Lot, where handsome business houses stand today, was at that time a grassy mound on top of which was a home known as the Higginbotham mansion. For years this home stood there and was only rivaled in size by the Bluefield Inn, which also stood on a mound, although a little higher than the Higginbotham mansion. The Bluefield Inn was then considered a fine building and as a hotel was considered one of the best in the state and there is no doubt but that it was a better building than the McLure House at Wheeling, which was then the state's leading hostelry. The Skinner Tavern at Fairmont, was a baby compared with the Inn, which was the mecca for all of the traveling men who at any time came to the southern end of the state. As a hotel it will be missed, as it has been a popular stamping grounds for a long time and has on numerous occasions housed many of the now famous men of this state and Virginia.
The hotel accommodations in the city will be rather meager for a time, but it is expected that Sam Matz will erect a new 7-story building in the spring. He said yesterday that it would be started not later than April first.
Mr. Marah, the present proprietor of the Inn, has a hotel at Twin Lakes, Colo., and also has large gold mining interests there and will probably move to that section of the country after the expiration of his lease. Mr. Marah is at present in Colorado and could not be seen yesterday.

[Does anyone know the location of the "Red Lot" or the Higginbotham mansion? Present-day Federal St. is shown as Higginbotham Ave. on old maps. Also, the present-day N&W, now NS, division office building sits on the site of the old Bluefield Inn.]

Gordon Hamilton
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