Historic Elgin Hotel B & B

As the wife of a photographer, I sometimes go places and see things I otherwise wouldn’t. Our visit to the Historic Elgin Hotel B & B last weekend is a prime example. Harland was hired to photograph the B & B inside and out, and so we paid a visit to Marion Kansas. Harland had access to all the rooms and as he took pictures, I followed along and took pics of my own to share with you.

When first built, the Elgin was considered to be “the finest hotel west of Topeka”, but 80 years later, it was scheduled to be demolished – its stone walls scavenged and hauled away. The story of the Elgin is one of determination and endurance.

In the mid 1880s, the growing town of Marion in central Kansas, felt the need for a hotel to encourage travel to their town and further enable it’s growth. But attempts to attract a hotel developer were unsuccessful, so the townspeople, with typical frontier determination, decided to build it themselves. In the fall of 1885, they pooled their money, hired an architect, contractor, stone-cutters and carpenters, and one year later, the grand 3 story hotel was completed.  It was the pride of not just the town, but the county as well, and was described as having “forty airy, cozy sleeping apartments, an elegant double parlor, bath room, an unusually fine dining room, sample room, wash room, barbershop, reading room, etc., all neatly and comfortably furnished, and supplied with modern appliances for the comfort of the guests”.

Elgin Hotel as it appeared in the 1920s

It served its guests and the community well for decades, but in the late 1950s, it closed its doors.  Once the site of lavish balls and receptions, it now sat empty and forgotten.  Fifteen years of quiet passed, and then it was purchased by an organization with plans to tear it down and reuse the limestone walls. Luckily, those plans did not materialize, and about a year later in 1976, the hotel was purchased and converted into an apartment building. Reminiscent of the the hotel’s early days, the citizens of Marion came forward again with investments that  made the project possible.  For the next 30 years, the hotel turned apartment building was a bustling place, not as grand as before, but at least used and appreciated. In 2006, it was purchased again, but this time, the new owners had plans to restore it to its former glory and then reopen its doors as a bed and breakfast.

And today, a warm light spills from the ornate glass fronted door to welcome travelers.

Once inside, a gracious lobby

leads to a grand staircase which winds its way around a sparkling chandelier.

Just off the lobby, there is an elegant ballroom perfectly suited for wedding receptions, dances, and parties.

There are 8 bedrooms to choose from all uniquely furnished with antiques purchased locally, and all with private baths. Each bedroom is decorated with different colors and styles.

While each of the bathrooms contains all new furnishings, an effort was made to give the impression of a late 1800s bathroom complete with tiled floors and walls.

Throughout all the rooms, old antiques mingle effortlessly with antique reproductions. We had to look carefully to determine which was which.

Two antiques that caught my eye were this dresser (above and below pics),

and wardrobe with glass doorhandles.

At the front desk, a key from the hotel’s heyday hangs framed upon the wall. A message states ” Drop in any mailbox. We guarantee postage.”

Much has changed in the 125 years since the hotel was built. But for all the change both inside and outside its walls, much has stayed the same.

Today’s roomkey bears the same message, and the promise is still honored.


———> UP NEXT: Homemade doughnuts from a 1921 recipe.

——-> LATER THIS WEEK: Fire and Ice.

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