Prior to the hotel opening, the site was home to a music hall. The hotel was built in 1897 and opened the following year. It was named after Emma E. Sterling. Her husband, Walter G. Sterling, was a local banker who owned a share of a music hall that was on the site before the Hotel Sterling was built.
Ten years after Walter’s passing, the hotel opened. Emma was the main motivator behind building the hotel, thus it being named after her. The hotel was designed by a local architect, J. W. Hawkins.
When the hotel first opened, it featured 175 rooms. Upon opening, it was received very well by the public and quickly rose to become one of the best hotels in the Northeastern United States. Without a doubt, it was the best hotel in the area.
In the 1920s, a competing hotel opened just a few blocks down from the Sterling, but it did not last. It was acquired by the Hotel Sterling less than five years after it opened. Still, the hotel was affected by the Great Depression and began to face financial hardships in the 1930s.
The Sterling was purchased by a former state senator, Andrew Sordoni, in 1936. He then joined the main hotel with a four-story connector building, Plaza Tower. Sordoni purchased more hotels in both PA and NY. Together, they were called the Sterling Hotels System.
The hotel hosted many people through the years, and it is said that late president John F. Kennedy stayed there in the early 1960s. Still, many changes were to come as years went by.
Eventually, the hotel became a dorm for students of both King’s College and Wilkes University and was later converted into apartments. In the 1980s, students left and other businesses opened in the area that the Sterling could not compete with. Then, in 1998, the owner could not pay the pricey electric bill, leaving the building abandoned.
A fire and lack of maintenance took its toll on the building over the years, leading to its destruction in 2013. The building was even effected by the area’s flood in 2011, damaging the hotel’s basement greatly. There were plans to restore the property, but the costs became too high and the building was demolished.
Still, the location holds some rich history of the area. A silent film, His Neglected Wife, was filmed on the location in 1918 by a local film studio, U.S. Motion Pictures Corporation (USMPC). A majority of the film takes place in the Hotel Sterling and the hotel’s nameplate can be seen in the film. His Neglected Wife is one of four USMPC films that have survived. You can watch it here.
A piece of the Hotel Sterling stays alive in a popular local restaurant, Canteen 900. When you first walk in, you can’t help but notice a beautiful, grand chandelier hanging from above. That chandelier was from the Hotel Sterling and was purchased and restored by Canteen 900 when they were getting ready to open their restaurant.
Header image from Boston Public Library.
Kayleigh is a content writer with a BA in technical writing/literature and an MA in creative writing. When she’s not at work writing, she’s at home writing, reading, or binge-watching television shows… for research, of course. A big do-it-yourselfer and crafter, Kayleigh loves testing out projects and gifting them to friends and family—all in preparation for when she owns her own home one day and decorates with her own personal creations. Her work has appeared on The Writing Cooperative and as an Honorable Mention in East Meets West American Writers Review.