The decaying Danville Hotel Wild West buildings are facing the wrecking ball sometime in October 2013, to be replaced with 35,000 square feet of new retail, office, and residential spaces, according to city officials. Two important downtown historical buildings—the hotel itself and the adjoining McCauley House on Hartz Avenue—will be renovated as part of the plan.
The rest of the 1.12-acre block of kitschy old west style structures originally built in the 1950s, from Hartz to Railroad to Prospect avenues, will be completely razed to make room for the new buildings. Approximately 14,380 square feet of existing retail, restaurant, and office space will be destroyed, replaced by the mixed-use space that includes 16 residential units. The second-floor units will average 1,200 feet in size.
The new development is being built by the Castle Companies, which has intended for more than a decade to tear down the Wild West structures. An original plan called for a three-story building that included condominiums, offices, retail stores, and underground parking. Despite the Town changing the zoning to allow for the mixed use, the plan sputtered due to the economy, according to the developer.
Three years ago new plans were developed, with no third story or underground parking. The project received Town approval in March 2011, with plans for a 2012 construction date, which did not materialize. Eventually on July 25, 2013, the project’s architectural design received final approval from the Town’s Historic Design Review Committee, after four hours of discussions. A month later on August 26, the Castle Companies submitted a full set of plans to Town officials for review.
The Danville Hotel is slated for restoration to its original historic condition, although it’s not clear yet what the finished building will look like. A consultant recommended that the rear wing of the hotel be removed; it’s not original to the structure and has been heavily altered over the years.
According to the consultant’s report, the hotel was built in 1891, sitting at the corner of Railroad Avenue and Short Street, right across from the Southern Pacific depot. The McCauley Family, Irish immigrants, opened the 10-room hotel in 1892. The McCauley’s soon built their cottage at the northwest corner of Hartz Avenue and Short Street.
As cars became more important in the life of Danville, and the railroad less important, the focus of downtown life turned away from the depot to Hartz Avenue. In 1927 the McCauley’s moved the hotel to face Hartz. The family stopped offering rooms in the 1930s, and leased it out; over the years it was used as restaurant space, home to popular eateries like the Danville Hotel Restaurant and Saloon, the Silver Dollar Room, and later Celia’s Mexican Restaurant.
Russel Glenn bought the property in 1952, turning it into a Western-themed “ghost town”, hoping to attract diners and shoppers from all over the region. He painted the hotel’s now well-known red and white colors. The block underwent significant renovations over the years, including its last renovation in the 1970s.