MULLENS - Pat Brooks vividly remembers riding through Mullens in the 1980s, by the historic Wyoming Hotel and Webster Apartments building looking at the old dwelling.

"Almost every time we drove by there my dad would say how much he would like to go in the building," said Brooks, secretary for the Mullens Community Development Corporation.

Brooks would secretly think the same thing.

To this day, he has still not been in the county treasure, but Brooks said that could be changing soon.

Brooks and several Mullens luminaries were on hand on Aug. 6 to receive a $5,000 grant from FOCUS WV Brownfields program.

Brooks and other officials said they might take a look inside the building as early as next week. Ironically, many of current residents, like Brooks, have never been inside.

The check from Brownfields will get the ball rolling toward exactly what will need to be done to not only save the building, but also to restore it for current usage.

"At this point it is impossible to create a timeline," Brooks said. "But this grant today will get us rolling forward with environmental surveys that will help us create that timeline."

"We've got a long road ahead of us," Mullens Mayor Genny Ann Martin said. "It's not going to be quick, but this didn't happen over night."

In fact, the ball started rolling when Steve Darr, from Peacework, in Blacksburg came across the old building. Peacework is a global nonprofit organization that engages communities, academic institutions and corporations in finding sustainable development.

"Steve Darr is really the one who got the ball rolling," Martin said.

One thing led to another, and Darr talked to Mullens people about a project. Mullens officials submitted an application to Brownfield and the project is now underway.

"They presented a great application," said Brownfields Director Patrick Kirby. "We are happy to present this grant."

Kirby said that Brownfields can also help the town with further grants and would be involved in the project.

The Hotel Wyoming has withstood the test of time and two devastating catastrophes.

Constructed in 1918, the Hotel was nearly destroyed by fire in 1919. Then, 13 years after it was officially closed, Mullens was ravaged by a terrible flood.

The Hotel is currently owned by Sam Webster, who has plans to turn it over to the town.

"There are some things we need to check, we don't want to take on something we can't clean up," Brooks said. "Once we do that we will be moving forward."

Though early in preliminary stages, town officials said they are excited about the possibilities for the old building.

"There are a lot of possibilities," Brooks said of what could be in store. "We are talking about a project in terms of years and we understand that. But it could be used as office space, it could be used as a medical-type facility. It could have ground-level shops, which is something I understand it once had. There is meeting space. We will have meetings to discuss that after we have conducted more studies and we would like the community's input."

One thing that likely won't happen to the landmark, where president John F. Kennedy once had lunch while on the campaign trail in 1960, is the building being restored to what it was yesterday.

"By modern standards, it doesn't have the plumbing people would expect, and it would take a massive expansion of the plumbing inside to get it where it would need to be."

Whatever it becomes in the future, the town leadership is excited about it.

"This has such a great possibility and can be such an economic boost and a draw for the town of Mullens," Martin said. "A lot of us have been here for a long time and we have seen good times and we've seen bad times. I feel in my heart that the good times are coming back. When we can get the hotel and the old hospital building (right down the street from the hotel) renovated and get something in it, and get them up and running, it's going to be a draw and one more positive thing happening in Mullens."

A future community meeting will likely be set up for some time in September.

The Hotel Wyoming is the tallest building in Wyoming County, other than coal tipples. The six-floor building has a mezzanine above the ground floor and then four stories of rooms above that.

Tags