Hume Hotel - Nelson, BC
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member BK-Hunters
N 49° 29.552 W 117° 17.695
11U E 478642 N 5482252
Quick Description: Built in 1898 by John Frederick Hume, the Hume is the oldest hotel in Nelson still operating as a hotel. For 25 years of its history it was operated as The Heritage Inn, until its final benovation, in 2005.
Location: British Columbia, Canada
Date Posted: 3/24/2014 4:23:04 PM
Waymark Code: WMKDAP
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member bluesnote
Views: 2

Long Description:
John Hume was one of the very first businessmen to operate in Nelson, partnering with Bob Lemon in a general store which originally operated out of one of the two tents which, along with a shack dispensing mining supplies, constituted the Nelson Business District in 1888. Bob Lemon was an enterprising entrepreneur who opened general stores where ever a mining camp sprung up in the Kootenays.

At the corner of Vernon and Ward Streets, the Hume has accepted guests nearly continuously for 115 years and recaptures its reputation as a luxury hotel. Much changed over the years, particularly after its sale by its second owner Wilmer C. Wells to hotelier George Benwell in 1912, it appears very much unlike it once did.

The Hume Hotel occupies Number 58 on the City of Nelson's 2011 Heritage Register.

The building was awarded the City of Nelson's "Award of Excellence" award in 1993 and the "Renovations Sympathetic to Heritage" award for the year 2005, after completion of renovations in 2006. The hotel itself has posted a very complete article on the building, so I'll let them relate its history[abridged and edited for clarity and errors]:

"In this hotel Nelson possesses at once a structure of architectural beauty and imposing appearance, and a public Inn …which is equaled by few of the cities of British Columbia and certainly not in the interior."

—The Tribune, March 12, 1898

Work on the Hume Hotel began on Saturday, June 12, 1897. At that time, Nelson's landscape was considerably different from today. A deep ravine, created by Ward Creek, essentially divided the city in two, with the dirt roads of Vernon and Baker Streets passable only by way of wood frame bridges. The Hume Hotel, which sat on the corner of Ward and Vernon, was an impressive figure within this scene.

"Between Winnipeg on the east, and Vancouver on the west, no such building exists."
—The Tribune, March 12, 1898

The hotel was designed by Alexander Charles Ewart, who carefully considered all the architectural details, from piazza views to bay windows to inset balconies. With much thought also given to ornate detailing and state-of-the-art amenities like electric lights and steam radiators, all for a total cost of $60,000, the hotel was indeed a marvel to behold.

After nine years of successful operation, on March 11, 1907, J. Fred sold the Hume Hotel to Wilmer C. Wells, a political man who served as commissioner of lands and works for two terms under Premiers James Dunsmuir and E.G. Prior respectively. Wells brought in his two sons, George and James, to run the hotel, and fully intended to construct additions in response to the growing demand in Nelson for first-class accommodations. Wells, however, never did fulfill his commitment, and on October 14, 1912 he sold the hotel to George Benwell, an hotelier of considerable repute, for a sum of $85,000.

Benwell's tenure irrevocably changed the Hume Hotel. Following the revolutionary architectural standards of Frank Lloyd Wright, in May 1929 a massive interior and exterior renovation was completed. The Hume Hotel was so different in appearance that it was, as described in the Daily News, "hardly recognizable." The magnificent cupola, which towered over Vernon and Ward Streets, was removed; the balconies were extended outward flush with the exterior walls; the entrance was moved to its present location and many other changes were made.

Benwell, following in Hume's footsteps, also considered modern amenities and state-of-the-art technology a necessity. He installed a telephone exchange and phone in every room, a dumb waiter, a French steel range, steam tables and electric dishwasher in the kitchen, and an icemaker capable of producing 600 pounds of ice daily. The level of service, sophistication, and general hospitality excellence, which were hallmarks of the Hume era, were also the hallmarks of the Benwell era.

By 1979, the Hume Hotel was in a serious state of deterioration. Benwell had sold the hotel in the 1940s, and after a series of owners failed to keep up the standards established by Hume and Benwell, the Hume Hotel was nearly condemned. Bills were left unpaid, the power was disconnected, and it sat empty for several months. Ernie Rushworth, who at that time carried the first mortgage on the property, called on Dave Martin, who had helped Rushworth successfully revitalize a run-down hotel in the Yukon. He asked Dave if he would be interested in purchasing the Hume.

After careful consideration, the purchase was completed and an exhaustive heritage restoration project began. Nelson was undergoing a similar initiative in the same period so the timing was excellent. In December of 1980, the Hume Hotel was reborn as the Heritage Inn, and once-again became a proud symbol for the people of Nelson.

The restoration project took one million dollars to complete, twice the original budget, and was carefully undertaken by designer David Thompson. The massive renovations were wrought with pitfalls — the interior was completely gutted and the hotel's electrical and plumbing systems redone. A number of hidden treasures were revealed during this time, many of which have been carefully restored and are now part of the Heritage Inn ambiance.

In the Library Lounge, for example, you can see the original old brick fireplace, which had been hidden from view by a plaster wall. Adding to the success of the project, many local residents provided antiques, photos and artefacts to decorate the interior, and local trades people recreated many of the original embellishments, sometimes working from old photographs.

In 2005, major changes to the hotel’s exterior façade were completed which included an outdoor patio for the General Store Restaurant as well as the hotel’s signature rooftop ‘crown’. Twenty-five years as the Heritage Inn, the Martins continued the tradition of hospitality excellence started in 1898 by J. Fred and Lydia Hume. At the completion of the exterior renovation, the hotel went back to its roots to be renamed as the original proprietor once titled it, the Hume Hotel, paying homage to a local legend and a storied history on the corner of Vernon and Ward Street. Members of the Hume family were again on-hand for the festive grand re-opening as they were exactly twenty-five years ago.





Award Collection:
1993 - Award of Excellence - http://www.nelson.ca/EN/main/services/planning-building-services/community-planning/heritage-planning.html 2005 - Renovations Sympathetic to Heritage - http://www.nelson.ca/EN/main/services/planning-building-services/community-planning/heritage-planning.html


Number of award plaques:: 2 - 5

Sites web address: [Web Link]

Type of awarded site: Single building

Other type. Please explain: Not listed

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