Pittsburg Scenes - Hotels
   
Stilwell Hotel
701 N. Broadway
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Hotel Stilwell
- no postmark (c1907-1914)
Hotel Stilwell
- postmarked 1910
Hotel Stilwell
- no postmark (c1907-1914)
Hotel Stilwell
- photo 1915
Hotel Stilwell
- no postmark (c1915-1930)
 
 
         
Hotel Stilwell Lobby
- postmarked 1910
Hotel Stilwell
- no postmark (c1930-1940)
Hotel Stilwell
- photo 2006
Hotel Stilwell
- photo 2006
Hotel Stilwell
- Sanborn Insurance Map 1897
 
 
         
   
Hotel Stilwell Coaster
- early 1900's
original item size: 4 3/4" x 5"
Hotel Stilwell/Wm. Nold Cigar Item
Trade Mark registered by Wm. Nold Pittsburg cigar manufacturer
- early 1900's

original item size: 8 3/4" x 6 1/4"
Hotel Stilwell Cigar Item
Related to Wm. Nold Pittsburg local cigar manufacturer
- early 1900's

original item size: 6" x 3"
   
 
 

In 1889, a board of trade was formed in the city that concluded that what was needed to make the city attractive to investors and industry was a more “cosmopolitan” look. That is more modern and up to date for the time. It was decided that the city needed a grand, majestic brick hotel to rival those in metropolitan cities of Chicago and St. Louis. The site on North Broadway was purchased from the Kansas & Texas Coal Company and had a 150-foot frontage on Broadway and stretching 170 foot to the west on Seventh Street. The new four-story hotel was to be of red brick and trimmed in Carthage stone and would be the tallest building in the town of 9,000, up to that time.
B. F. Hobart and Franklin Playter secured interest in the project by Arthur E. Stilwell from Kansas City and 3 other men from New Haven, Conn. Stilwell was the founder of the Kansas City, Pittsburg and Gulf railroad, the predecessor of what is now the Kansas City Southern Railroad. The 160 members of the Pittsburg Board of Trade each pledged $625 making $100,000 in seed money for the project. Impressed, that the city was serious about its commitment to the project, Arthur E. Stilwell agreed to sell the bonds for hotel in the amount of $75,000 and to secure interest from associates in the east. Because of this action, the businessmen decided to name the hotel in his honor thus The Hotel Stilwell Company of Pittsburg was formed and incorporated.
On 26 July 1889, The Hotel Stilwell Company of Pittsburg hired St. Louis architect, W. C. Lindsey to design the new building. C. W. Green of Wichita was hired to build the hotel. At the time there weren’t any brick plants in the area and it was too expensive to transport the amount of brick that would be needed to build the building. To remedy this problem, Green built a plant on site to manufacture the brick to be used. Word soon spread that the area was rich with clay that would make good solid bricks and several more brick plants were opened. By 30 Aug 1889, bricks were being made not only for the Hotel Stilwell project but were being made to pave the streets of Pittsburg. The vitrified bricks were all locally made.
The hotel has played a very important role in the development of Pittsburg and the state. In 1919, the hotel served as the “temporary” capital of the state of Kansas when Governor Henry J. Allen came to Pittsburg and set up his offices on the third floor for three weeks during a violent miners strike in the area. The Hotel Stilwell also played an important part in the Scopes Monkey Trial in 1925. It was here that Clarence Darrow issued his reply to the Tennessee judge’s interrogatories of the trial. Its second floor balcony, directly above the entrance, was the site of speeches by famous travelers passing through Pittsburg. These included Susan B. Anthony, William Jennings Bryan and President Theodore Roosevelt. During World War II, the U. S. Army took over the Stilwell as living quarters for men being trained as glider pilots at the Atkinson Municipal Airport, west of Pittsburg. The hotel was remodeled in 1926 with Otto’s Café being added to the North.
The owner and proprietor of the new hotel was D. J. Dean. He moved to Kansas City a few years after it’s opening to manage the Savoy Hotel and his brother A. J. Dean took over operation of the Hotel Stilwell. He later moved to Kansas City and another brother O. K. Dean. He remained in charge of the property until ill health forced him to retire; Dean’s son George then managed the building. George Dean operated the hotel until his death in the 1966. It operated as a hotel and retirement home with businesses on the first floor until 1975 when its owner Mrs. Hester Dean died. The hotel then became the property of Lorene Dougherty, a niece, but she was forced to close the hotel due to financial issues a few years later. The city decided they wanted to tear it down about this time so that the site could be used for a new building, but a group of citizens came to its rescue and on April 30, 1980 the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Sites In 1979, the building was purchased by Dr. Wilson & Linda Rigler. They rewired the first floor and again businesses were opened. But by 1984, the businesses were closed and the building went into bankruptcy. In the 1996, building permits were issued for renovation and restorations. The newly outfitted hotel was reopened in 1997 with 44 elderly housing apartments and 4 commercial spaces on the first floor. The ballroom on the first floor, which includes original stained glass windows was dedicated as the Timmons Ballroom, which can be rented for functions. The lobby area was restored to its 1926 grandeur and also includes a small museum of Stilwell Hotel artifacts.

 
 
Arthur Edward Stilwell (2 Oct 1859 - 26 Sept 1928) born in Rochester, New York married Jennie A. Wood moving to Kansas City, Missouri where he sold insurance for several years. He began construction on the first line of the Kansas City Suburban Belt Railway in 1887. He wanted to build a railroad route from Kansas City to Port Arthur, Texas. Through further acquisitions, Stilwell completed his route calling it the Kansas City, Pittsburg and Gulf Railroad Company, later the Kansas City Southern Railroad. Stilwell ran the company from 1897 to 1900 when he was forced out and the company was put into receivership. A giant oilfield was discovered in Texas in 1901 which secured the railroads future. Overall Stilwell is credited for building more than 2300 miles of railroad and creating about 40 towns on the route between Kansas City and the gulf region, including Mena, Arkansas, Stilwell, Oklahoma and Port Arthur, Texas.
   

 

 

updated January 2014
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