The Elgin Hotel was listed on the National Register on 9/13/1978.
Link to the national register nomination for the Elgin Hotel.
Link to other historical buildings in Marion County, Kansas.
Despite the advantage of Marion's two railroad lines, the community seemed to have had trouble attracting a truly ambitions hotel enterprise, and thus interested citizens were forced to resort to offering a substantial financial incentive to prospective developers. Thus, on July 10, 1885, the Marion Record reported that the local real estate firm of Case and Billings would award $1,000, to which the citizens of Marion would add $2500, to any "outsider" who would erect "a great hotel building" in Marion.
When no outsider immediately leaped at their proposition, Case and Billings, along with many citizens in the town, took matters into their own hands, and in late July formed a hotel company - 160 shares of capital stock were sold at $100 each to finance the project. By August, 1885, the company had commissioned an architect "in the eastern part of the state" to draw up plans and specifications for a three-story stone structure. Contracts were let in September and October and work commenced soon after. According to October 9, 1885, Marion Record, the contract for the stone work was awarded to Harper and Rhind of Marion, that for provision of sand to E.L. Snider, that for provision of stone to Mr. Kellett, and the contract for the carpentry work was awarded to Henry Kable, reportedly "one of the best workmen in Kansas." Other sources identify Simon Weidenbener and Fred Frobenius as stone cutters for the project.
The grand opening was held on September 15, 1886, with a banquet and ball that were the most splendid the city had seen. Programs that have survived detail an elaborate menu. All the principals in the hotel project were on the program and music was provided by the Marion Silver Cornet Band.
Shortly after the Elgin Hotel opened, the Marion Record observed, "'We get prouder and prouder of the Elgin Hotel. It is indeed a 'big thing' for the town." Its impact on the county scene is indicated by the fact that the hotel occupied the cover of the 1888 "Handbook of Marion County, Kansas," for it was the largest hotel in the county at that time.
Built to stimulate an economic boom, the hotel was a symbol of the town's aspirations more than an index of its actual achievements. Enthusiastic newspaper accounts accompanied the hotel 's construction. Just as work on the hotel was getting underway in late August, 1885, one reporter stated that the Elgin would be a "monster three story stone hotel" executed in "the most elaborate style of modern architecture" with " first class" interior appointments, It would be "a monument to Marion's glory and a common pride to citizens and its enterprising builders. This will be the finest hotel west of Topeka."
In comparison with the hotel facilities in larger places like Wichita and Garden City, each of which boasted one or more new hotels during this period, the Elgin was a modest structure (the Windsor Hotel in Garden City had four stories, cost $100,000 and had 125 rooms; the Carey House in Wichita had five stories and cost $100,000.) Yet, far its location and available resources it was an impressive project, providing seemingly lavish accommodations with forty airy, cozy sleeping apartments, an elegant double parlor, bath room, an unusually fine dining room, sample room, wash room, tonsorial room, reading room, etc., all neatly and comfortably furnished, and supplied with modern appliances for the comfort of the guests."To those who recalled A, E. Case's "Hotel Commercial" which opened in the late 1860s, and offered sleeping accommodations in the attic, this new hotel must have seemed a satisfactory improvement.
The Elgin served the community from its opening in 1886 until the late 1950's when it was closed. In 1974 it was acquired by an organization that wanted to demolish it and reuse the stone. However, those plans fell though, and the structure remained empty until 1976 when it was renovated, opening once again in 1977, but this time as an apartment house rather than a hotel. It is interesting to note that, like the construction of the hotel, the renovation of the Elgin in the 1970's also relied to a large extent on capital generated by investments in the project made by local citizens. The Elgin remained an apartment for almost 30 years before it was sold yet again. Beginning in 2006, the building was renovated into an 8 room bed and breakfast with a ballroom and conference room.