An Anchor of Downtown Elkins


Built in 1906 as the grand hotel of Elkins, the Tygart is an anchor of the city’s historic downtown landscape. The six-story, Romanesque Revival-style hotel is one of Elkins’ oldest surviving buildings and a contributing structure to the Downtown Elkins Historic District, recognized both for its architectural importance as well as its significance in the development of the city/region. 

Originally known as the Hotel Gassaway, renamed the Hotel Tygart in 1923, the site operated as a high-end hotel for over sixty years. Its roots trace back to Elkins’ first city planning efforts, when city co-founder and future Senator Henry Gassaway Davis set aside a portion of land known as the “Public Square Block” that would become the heart of downtown Elkins. Davis sold a parcel of this land to John Niedballa in 1901, who sold the land again just four years later to J.W. Jenkins and Charles Harr. Jenkins and Harr hired notable local architect John T. Ward to construct the ambitiously soaring Hotel Gassaway, which opened for business the following year. 

The hotel quickly found its niche catering to the wealthy clientele drawn to Elkins throughout the early to mid-1900s. These guests came first for the town’s early railroad and industrial opportunities, and later for its commercial and cultural ones as Elkins became the thriving economic hub of the region. Due to the hotel’s popularity, it soon became a central gathering space for community members as well. The hotel was used for many local social events, Forest Festival functions, the first classes held by the Augusta Heritage Center, and even housed other businesses such as a restaurant and beauty salon. The site was also frequently used for political activities and acted as the headquarters for local Democratic Party organizations, an office/residence for Senator Jennings Randolph, and a tour stop by Franklin D. Roosevelt Jr. on behalf of John F. Kennedy during his 1960 presidential campaign. 

Unfortunately, demand for the hotel waned as Elkins began to grapple with the same economic struggles that plagued most of West Virginia in the second half of the twentieth century. As a result, the building was converted to apartments in the 1970s and slowly fell into worsening condition over the decades that followed. Despite this decline, however, the Tygart Hotel has always remained a cornerstone of downtown Elkins and an essential piece of the community’s heritage.

*Historic Header Photos – Courtesy of Robert C. Whetsell Collection


Today, both Elkins and the Tygart Hotel are experiencing an exciting renaissance. In the early 2010s, a series of community planning conversations between the City of Elkins and a group of concerned citizens called Envision Elkins concluded that any overarching approach to revitalizing Elkins’ economic prospects must include the rehabilitation of the Tygart Hotel. As a result, they engaged Elkins-based nonprofit community development organization Woodlands Development Group and encouraged the organization to take on the challenging project. 

Woodlands saw the importance of this task and purchased the property in 2017 for $700,000. After five years of painstaking predevelopment planning, Woodlands was able to finalize an extremely complex $18+ Million finance package utilizing funding from public, private, governmental, and non-profit financing partners and multiple types of tax credit equity. 

In partnership with architectural firm Mills Group LLC and management corporation Taylor Hospitality, Woodlands and the project team were able to renovate the hotel in a way that preserves and celebrates the structure’s historic architectural elements while beautifully and creatively updating the site for modern use. The restoration of the historic Tygart Hotel would not have been possible without the dedication and support of an array of project partners. The involvement of community lenders, nonprofit organizations, local banks, and government entities has been instrumental in bringing this ambitious project back to life. Thanks to their contributions, the Tygart Hotel stands today as a testament to the collective power of community collaboration.