Editor's note: This is the 169th in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington scenes.
HUNTINGTON - From Huntington's earliest years, the city's role as a gateway to and from the rich West Virginia coalfields guaranteed that its hotels would do a brisk business. The traveling salesmen of that era - generally called "drummers" - routinely made Huntington their headquarters, venturing forth to surrounding communities and then returning to the city.
Catering to the needs of the drummers and others who came calling were a number of busy hotels, many of them clustered along 9th Street.
The city's original Adelphia Hotel was located on 9th Street at 6th Avenue. When the building burned in 1901, the owners elected not to rebuild at that location. Instead they purchased the Carolina Hotel on the northwest corner of 9th Street and 5th Avenue, remodeled the four-story red brick building and gave it the Adelphia name.
The Adelphia would be a familiar part of the downtown landscape for decades and even survived a spectacular fire on Christmas Day, 1950.
By that time, the Adelphia no longer lodged overnight guests but was primarily a residential hotel that housed tenants attracted by its cheap rates. No guests were hurt in the fire, which broke out about 2 p.m.
"Had the fire broken out at night, it's hard to say whether we could have saved the lives of the many elderly permanent guests at the hotel," Green Triplett, the hotel's manager told The Herald-Dispatch. Most of the guests were out having their holiday dinner when the fire started, Triplett said.
Hundreds of other people got up from their Christmas dinners to venture downtown and look on as 40 firefighters battled the flames for more than three hours. Damages in the fire were estimated at $75,000. Most of the building's ground-floor businesses did not burn but suffered extensive water damage.
In 1977, the long-closed hotel became part of Huntington's history when the wreckers made short work of the building, clearing the site for construction of a new modern building for the Cabell County Public Library. Adjacent buildings also were demolished.
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"Lost Huntington: Volume 1" is a hardcover, full-color book of some of the city's lost landmarks. The book is likely to be of interest to anyone who enjoys history and loves Huntington.
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