Once known as one of the nation’s most luxurious hotels, the Virginian is scheduled to reopen its doors in 2017.
Blair Godsey and George Stanley, the owners of Virginian Hotel, LLC, are no strangers to local downtown development. In fact, they recently redeveloped former warehouses and factories in Lynchburg and transformed them into the Cliffs Edge Lofts, Midpoint Apartments and Imperial Tobacco Lofts. Their next project? The Virginian building located at 712 Church Street.
The luxurious Virginian hotel:
The Virginian Hotel originally opened in 1913 as Lynchburg’s premier grand downtown hotel. The Classical Revival style building was built 5 stories tall at the corner of 8th and Church Streets and was designed by Verus T. Ritter with two additions designed by renowed architect Stanhope S. Johnson. The hotel is notable for its arched windows on the first floor, its ornate lobby including 30 foot barrel vaulted ceilings with curved skylights and the grand marble stairs with wrought iron railings.
The hotel hosted numerous public and private events and many esteemed guests including Ronald Reagan in 1957. The hotel struggled in the 1960’s and finally closed. In 1972 the building was used as the first dormitory for Liberty Baptist College, now Liberty University. In 1983 the upper floors were renovated for low income housing and the large elegant first floor spaces were enclosed and used for storage.
Now, Godsey and Stanley will restore the 7-story building’s renaissance revival structure into a full service hotel and conference center. The project includes the complete historic renovation of the second through sixth floors into 115 hotel rooms. There will be a full restoration of the original grand lobby on the first floor into a ballroom for wedding and large public events. Additionally an integrated conference center as well as a rooftop deck, restaurant and coffee shop are planned.
The restoration will cost $25,000,000. To assist the project, the City of Lynchburg and Lynchburg Economic Development Authority (LEDA), agreed to a $5 million “gap financing” program. Approved by both entities in March, this financing will be broken into two parts: a $2.0 million loan from LEDA and a $3.0 million conduit loan from a private bank through the LEDA. Payments on the $5.0 million loan will come from the hotel’s new tax revenues, which are projected to be between $300,000 and $700,000 annually. The hotel’s performance agreement pledges at least $100,000 per annum to the City.
In November, Hilton Worldwide announced that The Virginian will join Curio – A Collection by Hilton. Curio is described as “a global set of upscale and luxury hotels hand-picked for their distinctive character and personality, appealing to passionate travelers seeking local discovery.” The Virginian Lynchburg will be Curio’s first property in Virginia.
The Lynchburg Economic Development Authority’s investment in the Virginian project will further the redevelopment of historic downtown Lynchburg, and is expected to strengthen our economy in two core ways: job creation and tourism industry stimulation. The Virginian restoration project plans to create 80 new full-time and part-time positions.
The Virginian Hotel is posed to be just one of the many successful redevelopment projects in Lynchburg. Attracting tourists from all over, the hotel will increase downtown foot traffic and help benefit shops and restaurants. The conference space will also allow the city to be competitive to host mid-sized professional conferences from across the state and region.
Photo Source: Adam H. Plecker Historic Photos