Story by Mike Nolting, MetroNews

ELKINS, W.Va. — The Tygart Hotel in downtown Elkins has reopened following a $18 million renovation project spearheaded by Woodlands Development & Lending and community leaders. The project is funded largely through tax credit investments, investors, and financing from Davis Trust Company, Pendleton Community Bank, and Freedom Bank.

The building was built in 1907 and boasted many prominent guests as Hotel Gassaway, including a ten-year stay by U.S. Senator Jennings Randolph, according to Woodland Development & Lending executive director David Clark.

The effort to bring the Tygart Hotel back to life is part of a larger plan to improve downtown Elkins. Planning and studies began in 2015, when the building had fallen into disrepair and was a continuous problem for law enforcement.

“The building had become very rundown; it had become what we call housing of last resort,” Clark said. “It was really rough, and it was driving businesses out of town.”

Construction began in May of 2022, and now the newly opened hotel is already generating interest in the downtown area. The executive director of the Randolph County Development Authority, Robbie Morris, said he is hearing and seeing an uptick in interest in downtown Elkins.

Tygart Hotel lobby

“This is the catalyst for other community development enhancement projects, business development, and growth,” Morris said. “This project is seen as a beacon of light for the future of downtown Elkins.”

The hotel, an aggressive Elkins blight removal program, and the addition of the Greater Elkins area to the remote worker recruitment program, Ascend West Virginia have done much to bring interest to Randolph County. And the announcement of a $4 million broadband expansion for the Elkins, Thomas, and Davis areas all contributes to the renewed interest in the area.

“Elkins is open for business,” Morris said. “We are investing in the downtown area, and other businesses are seeing the potential Elkins has, and we are on an upward growth trajectory.”

Elkins Mayor Jerry Marco said the project was a true community effort, and with all the other changes, they have had to revisit the comprehensive plan for the city several times to provide updates. But Marco made it clear that the city wants to build flexibility into the future to maximize future economic development opportunities.

“I think we’re on version 13. I’m making that up, but it’s not far from being off,” Marco said. “Every time we look at it, we have to modify something in there, so we’re getting ready to adopt a new five-year plan, and the council will hopefully approve it soon.”

The design for the renovation was completed by the Morgantown-based Mills Group LLC, with extensive input from the Elkins region. The 56-room facility includes local artwork on each floor and the lobby to highlight the lost towns and communities of the area. Each floor carries the name of a former town, like Spruce, Wildell, or Evenwood. The art and names keep the early days of the area alive.

Shelley Moore Capito

U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito stayed at the hotel the night prior to the ribbon cutting. She was able to meet with members of the project team and offer brief remarks before going back to Washington, D.C., for key votes to keep the federal government funded.

“It’s amazing what they’ve done, and I’m so excited about the historic preservation that’s gone on here and the way it’s going to revitalize downtown,” Capito said. “It’s a very exciting day.”