The grand Stratford Hotel, shown in this postcard provided by the Rev. John Keppel of Wheeling, graced Wheeling's hills for a short time in the early part of this century. Wilson Boone Kelly of Wheeling provided a Feb. 6, 1969, article in The Intelligencer which details the hotel's history and described it as "a pillar of beauty that few remember but whose fame has been unsurpassed during the last century." The "breathtaking wooded structure" located adjacent to the Saratoga Springs on Edgewood Street in the Woodsdale section of Wheeling opened its doors Aug. 13, 1903.
Since the hotel was near many National Road mansions, Wheeling's wealthy residents were known to close their homes during the winter and move into the Stratford's plush quarters because of its resort-like atmosphere. The hotel consisted of 84 handsome guest bedrooms, several sweeping verandas, a large lobby, three sun parlors and a billiard parlor. It was the place for the "beautiful" people of the area who attended the gala balls, lavish dinners and costume parties held at the hotel. But the grand parties at the Stratford Hotel soon became a memory as tragedy struck between 11 p.m. and midnight Jan. 13, 1918, when fire broke out in the hotel's motor room, and flames, which could be seen from downtown Wheeling, completely engulfed the structure within a few hours. Fortunately, hotel residents were able to escape the fire uninjured, but the mansion burned to the ground because no fire plugs existed in the immediate area. Although residents attempted to save the hotel's lavish furnishings by pushing velvet couches, grand pianos and ornate mirrors out of the structure, they discovered the next day that most of the items had been ruined by ice and water. Estimated loss from the fire was listed at $150,000, but the building insurance for $75,000 only covered part of the damages. At the time, tentative plans were made to rebuild the structure, but they never came to fruition. One of the few reminders of the great Stratford Hotel existing today is its namesake, the Stratford Springs country club, located on W.Va. 88 in Wheeling.
© reproduced with permission.
Service provided by the staff of the Ohio County Public Library in partnership with and funded in part by the Wheeling National Heritage Area Corporation.