2017-07-12 / News

Work on old hotel will begin this fall

By SAM ADAMS

The project to renovate the Daniel Boone Hotel, which was to begin this month, probably won’t begin until fall.

“We’re going to do the hotel, but the first thing you need to do is get a chair and sit down, because it’s going to be a while,” architect Bill Richardson said last week.

He said because the money being used for the renovation comes from the federal government, there has to be a consultation with the Kentucky Heritage Council, an environmental study to determine whether there is asbestos or other contaminants in the building, and a structural analysis to make sure the building is safe for demolition of the interior to begin.

Much, if not all, of the asbestos was removed in the 1990s, but Richardson said mold may still be a problem. The building has been open to the elements for nearly two decades.

The hotel, built in 1919- 1920 and opened in July of 1920, has been empty for 18 years and there have been numerous broken windows and open exterior doors for years. In the past 10 years, a leaky skylight and roof have led to the collapse of some of the floors, notably the first-floor area that was the courtroom when the building was used as a temporary courthouse in the late 1990s while renovation of the courthouse was underway.

Despite the dilapidated condition of the building, some of the original features remain. Tin ceilings installed when the building was new are still partially intact in some public areas of the building, such as the banquet room, and the original wood trim can be found around doors and some windows on the upper floors. The hotel vault is also still in the building. The steel canopy on the front of the building is part of the original structure as well, through the fire escape was added later. Because of a change in the state building code, that fire escape can be removed to return the facade to its original appearance, Richardson said.

The hotel is part of the Downtown Whitesburg National Register Historic District, which was approved by the National Parks Service in 2006 as a result of a project completed for Letcher County Tourism and Convention Commission through a state historic preservation grant. Because of that district, Letcher County was also named a “Preserve America Community.” Preserve America is a heritage tourism program championed by First Lady Laura Bush, which has continued under the Obama and Trump administrations.

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