Courtesy of James. E. Casto Coal operator John S. Farr originally planned that his new hotel would, as shown in this vintage postcard, be 14 stories. But soaring construction costs during World War I forced him to halt work at seven stories.

Editor's note: This is the 160th in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington scenes.

HUNTINGTON - On Nov 14, 1918, James Shaw, a pottery salesman from Philadelphia, became the first guest to register at the Farr Hotel, newly constructed on the southwest corner of 4th Avenue and 9th Street in downtown Huntington. Over the years, the Farr would prove to be a favorite with business travelers.

Originally the hotel was planned to be 14 stories, but soaring construction costs during World War I forced coal operator John S. Farr to halt work at seven stories. Farr hoped to later add seven more stories but never did so.

The vintage postcard illustrating this article shows the original 14-story design by the Huntington architectural firm of Meanor & Handloser. As built, the hotel would be only half as tall, with 125 rooms rather than the 250 originally envisioned.

In the 1930s the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. bought the hotel and changed its name to the Governor Cabell Hotel, named after William H. Cabell, the governor of Virginia from 1805 to 1808.

The old hotel closed in 1965 and the building, renamed Cabell Hall, was leased for use as a residential facility for the Huntington Women's Job Corps Center.

In 1941, Massachusetts Mutual had sold the building to the West Virginia Grand Lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. In 1975, the Odd Fellows sold the building to Helen Morris, the widow of real estate broker Taylor Morris, who renamed it the Morris Building.

In recent years, the former hotel housed a variety of offices, apartments and businesses. On July 27, 2014, an early-morning fire damaged the building, which remains vacant.

A faded sign reading "Hotel Farr - Fireproof" can still be seen at the top of the building's south wall.

Do you enjoy the "Lost Huntington" series?

"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.

Books are $29.95 plus tax, shipping and handling. To order, visit media.herald-dispatch.com/ecom/ or call 304-526-2720.


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