Historic building opens as newly renovated hotel
December 16, 2011
Getting a taste of the "home away from home" experience is what the newly renovated hotel and historic Park City building near Main Street, the Washington School House Hotel, is all about.
With 12 guest room and 12 staff members, the Washington School House is all about personal service where employees know everyone’s name where they are from and what brought them to Park City, said general manager, Jessica Davis.
"It will be impossible not to know everyone by first name here," Davis said. "We’re not a big-box type of hotel. It’s more like a big house."
Originally built in 1889 as a school, it is one of Park City’s oldest buildings. With preserved 16-foot-high ceilings and an original exterior, keeping the historic flair of the original school was a big part of the renovation process, Davis said.
The school closed in the 1930s and changed hands several times over the years. From a Veterans of Foreign Wars meeting hall to a pending condo project, the old school house went through a hodge-podge of interior makeovers. So when the new owners decided to embark on the renovation process, the decision was simple: take the building down to studs and start from scratch.
Gary Boswell, the general contractor of the project, said that was no easy feat.
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"At one point, we had to remove a concrete wall in pieces by lifting it four stories up," Boswell said. "That was interesting."
Davis said there were a lot of stories like that. The entire building didn’t have one perpendicular corner. Windows and walls were at odd angles. An entire mezzanine floor added in the 1980s was removed. But the owners wanted to make it work.
After eight months of renovation the hotel held an open house.
"It’s been a lot like the final stretch of a marathon. These last 400 meters are the hardest. The last few weeks have been amazing and challenging, and we’re so glad to finally be done."
"It feels great having people in here," Davis added.
Inside, pale walls and high ceilings can make a small room feel double the size. Several rooms feature loft spaces that fit a California King-sized bed. The furniture might include a sleek wrought iron bed or an antique picked up since renovations began.
The great room, a space for guests to relax by the fire or enjoy a complimentary breakfast, features one of Davis’s favorite pieces in the hotel: a tall, gilded mirror from an opera house in the south of France. Another favorite is a pair of gas-burning wall sconces that were updated for electrical use.
It’s details like that Davis said characterized the whole hotel.
The Washington School House Hotel features a lot of personal service, Davis said. Guests can use the valet service, including help with packing ski and snowboard gear in the car. If guests don’t feel like driving, a hotel shuttle can take them around town.
A heated outdoor lap pool and ski lounge area in the basement offers guests more spaces to hang out.
"We have a very relaxed feel," Davis said.
The hotel officially opens Dec. 27 and guests can book single rooms, a penthouse suite, or set up special accommodations to rent out several rooms.