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The Blennerhassett Hotel and Spa

Blennerhassett Hotel TodayThis Spotlight MOV is on The Blennerhassett Hotel and Spa right here in downtown Parkersburg at the corner of 4th and Market Streets. We want to thank their Digital Marketing Manager, Travis Stephens, for meeting us and giving us an extended tour of their beautiful building and granting permission to use information and pictures from their website at

History – “Hotel Blennerhassett” from 1889

The Historic Blennerhassett Hotel was built and constructed by Colonel William Nelson Chancellor. Construction on the original part of the hotel began in 1883, and after six years of construction, the doors were officially opened to the world on Monday, May 6, 1889. Chancellor wanted a hotel grand for its time, and second to no other hotel in the state of West Virginia, which the Blennerhassett was. The Blennerhassett was built for the millionaires of the day.

In the 1880’s, Parkersburg was in the middle of the nation’s oil and gas boom era that had begun right here in the Volcano area of Wood County, and Chancellor wanted his hotel to reflect the wealth of the day. The city of Parkersburg first received electricity in 1888 for the streetlights on the main streets in the town. It was electricity that was generated by natural gas. The hotel had both gas and electricity at the time that it opened. Local Parkersburg companies wired the hotel for electricity, plumbed it, and fitted it throughout with gas lighting, and steam heating.

The first proprietor to lease the new hotel from Chancellor and run and operate it was a man by the name of George C. Campbell. He was given the task, before the hotel was to be opened, to name Chancellor’s new hotel. He decided that it was going to be called the “Hotel Argyle”, not sure what significance this name had, but he eventually decided on “The Hotel Blennerhassett.” The name derived from Harmon Blennerhassett, an Irish aristocrat who settled on an island in the Ohio River a few miles from Parkersburg with his family in the late eighteenth century. Blennerhassett Island shares his namesake and is now a West Virginia State Park.

Blennerhassett_Circa1900The Bentley and Gerwig furniture company helped to furnish the hotel with some of its new furnishings before its new grand opening. Chancellor had two different companies from Cincinnati, Ohio come in and do all of the original window treatments throughout the hotel, as well as all of the frescoing works, which would have been seen in different parts of the lobby area, as well as in the restaurant. There was an electric elevator, as well as an electric service elevator, that were located in the hotel at the time of its opening, something new for the day.

Blennerhassett Circa 1900

The restaurant was located on the second floor and could seat up to 80 guests at one time. The kitchen was located on the fifth floor of the new hotel. This was done in case a fire in the kitchen were to start, it would start on the top of the building and work its way down. This was a common safety precaution for the day. The common area was located on the second floor and had two double parlors, with one housing an upright piano. The grand mirror in the lobby had a wire cage built around it, to protect it from stray bullets that could possibly have come through the windows due to unruly crowds and people on the street. There was a central staircase in the lobby which led up five stories. There were public bathrooms on every floor, and bathrooms in all of the 50 new guest rooms.

The first national bank of Parkersburg was located where the hotel’s present-day library is. William Chancellor twice served as mayor of Parkersburg and was the president of the first national bank at the time his new hotel was being built. Originally, Chancellor had become a teller at the Northwestern Bank of Virginia, eventually working his way up to vice president, and then eventually president. The Northwestern bank of Virginia became the first national bank of West Virginia when West Virginia became a state during the Civil War. In the 1980’s the bank became United Bank and is currently located on Market Street in Parkersburg. He wanted his bank right in the heart of his hotel, where it remained through the 1910’s.

The entrance into the bank was located at the corner of Fourth and Market Streets. After the bank went out, this became the main Hotel entrance until the 1985-1986 renovation. From historic records, we are very certain that the bank was most likely opened to the public before the hotel was completed. The Hotel is believed to be one of the first, if not the first, establishments in Parkersburg to have functional modern-day electricity.

History – First Renovation & Fire 1944-1979

Blennerhassett ca 1940 Blennerhassett ca 1940

The Hotel has had three major renovations since its opening in 1889. The first major renovation occurred in 1944-45, when William Chancellor’s grandson, Nelson C. Burwell ran and operated the hotel. At this time a new terrazzo floor was added to the lobby area and marble facade was added to exterior front. The only remaining section of the terrazzo lobby floor can be seen in the hotel’s present-day library and was restored for viewing in March 2020.

Towards the end of the 1970’s the Hotel had seen its better days. It had fallen into disrepair and was not functioning as a regularly operating hotel. In 1979, the hotel had around 30 elderly residents who were renting out rooms as apartments. The “Brass Works” was located in most of the first floor lobby area.

Blennerhassett On FireOn May 9, 1979, just 90 years and 3 days after the Blennerhassett Hotel had first originally opened their doors to the public, a fire broke out in a linen closet on the second floor of the fourth street side of the building.

Fortunately, the Parkersburg Fire department was able to extinguish the fire before it reached the fifth floor of the building. After the fire, the hotel was vacant until around 1980, when several Parkersburg locals joined with Pennsylvania-based investors and decided to save the Blennerhassett Hotel and bring it back to life.

 History – 1960 Presidential Campaign

In 1960, Mr. Robert Huck ran and operated the Blennerhassett Hotel. One of our most famous guests to have stayed at the hotel during this time period was a young senator from Massachusetts, Senator John F. Kennedy. While running for the Senator John F. Kennedy 1960presidency in 1960, it was crucial to win West Virginia’s electoral vote. Kennedy toured through West Virginia in the spring of 1960, coming through Parkersburg on two different occasions in May of 1960.

Both times that he was in Parkersburg, Kennedy stayed at the Blennerhassett Hotel. On one of his trips to Parkersburg, his brothers Ted and Bobby stayed at The Blennerhassett as well. A banquet luncheon was also held here at the Blennerhassett Hotel in his honor. Senator Kennedy stayed in suite 216 at the Blennerhassett Hotel, which at the time in 1960 was our largest guest suite, and was located on the second floor, on the fourth street side of the building.

Return to Glory 1985 – 2002

Older BlennerhassettThe Hotel’s second major renovation began in 1985, and continued until the early spring of 1986, surpassing seven million dollars. The new addition to the hotel was added at this time, including a grand Ballroom and Promenade on the first floor and guest rooms on the second through fifth floors, bringing the number of rooms to around 104. An atrium was added on the third floor, with skylights installed on the roof, along with the installation of new guest elevators, and the creation of the Library.

 The Kaltenecker building, which is located to the right of the hotel on Market Street, was incorporated into the hotel at this time. Many antiques from other places around the country were brought in to give a historical feel to the hotel at this time period, and lots of dark stained wainscoting was added throughout the building. Some could say that this renovation sort of gave the hotel a Mississippi Riverboat sort of feel inside.

The Kaltenecker building was built by John Kaltenecker at the same time that Chancellor was building the Blennerhassett Hotel. This is why when you are on the outside of the Hotel, the Kaltenecker building has the same architectural style as the Blennerhassett Hotels, because Kaltenecker had the same architect do the same architecture on his building that Chancellor had done on his new hotel building. On the third floor of the outside of the building the name Kaltenecker can be seen inscribed on the sandstone. The hotel had the name on the sandstone rein scribed around the time of the third major hotel renovation, due to the fact that time had worn away the name and people wondered what the significance of the name was.

Most Recent Renovation 2002 – 2006

Blennerhassett On A Snowy DayThe Hotel’s third major renovation began in November of 2002, and continued up until the spring of 2006. At this time the hotel property was owned by the Ross Family, who purchased the hotel’s property in 2000. This renovation surpassed ten million dollars. Construction was started at the fifth level, and once completed, moved to the next level and so on, until the entire building had been renovated floor by floor. This renovation took us from around 104 guest rooms down to 89 guest rooms.

Garden PatioAt this time the buildings to the right of the Hotel on Market Street were eliminated and a piece of that property was purchased to make room for our new garden patio area. At this time there was also a large hole opened up through the main dining room wall, in order to make room for the new doors leading from the main dining room out onto the new garden patio. There was also a portable stage area added to this area, in order to allow a spot for outdoor garden entertainment to occur during the summer months. There was also a climate-controlled patio tent that was added as well at this time for Hotel functions to be held in.

The Legacy Continues 2019 – Present

In October of 2019, the hotel was sold and became under new local ownership. Currently known as the company R&W Hotels, and owned and operated by Wayne Waldeck and Lee Eric Rector, both local businessmen here in Parkersburg.

The New Ballroom The New Ballroom

In the early part of 2020 there were some new changes made to the hotel. Faux tin ceilings were added in the library and throughout the main lobby and promenade area of the hotel. The current day library was given a facelift. The carpeting, which had covered the area in the library for over 35 years, had a treasure hiding underneath of it. The Terrazzo lobby floor, which was laid in 1944/45, was still there.

After a months’ worth of cleaning and restoring, it was finally brought back to life. Also two new chandeliers were hung in the lounge and main dining room areas. These chandeliers came from a home located near the Versace mansion. One of our main goals now is being able to transform the lounge and dining room back to having the historical look, feel and décor of the main part of the hotel. Very slowly we are being able to do little things at a time in order to be able to bring back the historical feel that was lost during the 2019 renovation in there.

The Solarium The Solarium on 3rd Floor

Lee’s Studio at The Blennerhassett opened on the second floor in 2022, completing the move that November. With this, the boutique hotel officially became “The Blennerhassett Hotel and Spa.” Lee’s Studio at The Blennerhassett provides an unmatched experience for guests of the Hotel and local clients, upgrading the experience of visiting The Historic Blennerhassett Hotel to the next level.

To this day, we are currently the oldest operating boutique hotel in the state of West Virginia. Still proudly locally owned, we are here to serve our local community, and our traveling clientele as well with the utmost class and style. Here at the Blennerhassett Hotel & Spa we serve all of our clientele proudly, and strive to make everyone’s visit here to this hotel a pleasurable and memorable experience. We like to think of ourselves here at the Blennerhassett Hotel as ladies and gentlemen, serving ladies and gentleman

For more history on this famous landmark go to