Boutique hotel depicts Williamsport’s rich history

From a room harkening back to the lumber era, to a suite dedicated to mail carriers, the City Hall Grand Hotel offers its guests a unique visual and tactical experience.

Owners Tim and Sandra Butters say they are proud to have purchased the former city hall at 454 Pine St. in 2007, and since 2016, have been transforming it into a boutique hotel with rooms unlike those in standard hotels.

Butters gave much of the credit to Tim’s late son, Josh.

“He was the creative genius behind the third floor rooms, furniture, and lobby,” Sandra Butters said on a recent tour.

Josh called those the “Hulk” rooms after his business, and used materials such as wood and iron – giving each space an industrial feel.

Pictures on the walls offer visitors a glimpse at many long-forgotten moments in time.

The rooms beckon guest to visualize what put the city on the map.

For instance, Williamsport was once the “Lumber Capital of the World,” and a room befittingly called “The Lumber Room,” has materials such as wood support beams, flooring and vintage photographs.

In one of those pictures, lumbermen and children – presumably members of their family – can be seen standing on top of massive logs, many of which were cut in nearby forests. The timber was floated down the West Branch of the Susquehanna River on booms to the mills lining the water’s edge and to the adjacent tanneries. The smoke from the factories can be seen wafting into the air.

The city also lays claim to being home of the founder of Little League Baseball, Carl E. Stotz, and the hoteliers gave tribute to this man and his youth sports phenomena by adding a Little League Baseball themed room, complete with bats and photographs of the series first held at Original Little League Field on West Fourth Street, along with those at the international complex in South Williamsport.

In the “Council Room,” is a photograph of a former city councilman who used the room for conducting business. The “Mail Room” is decorated in honor of the men and women of the U.S. Postal Service, who deliver mail in rain, snow, sleet and hail – and it boasts the largest of the picture windows in the hotel, one offering a full view of the downtown west of Pine Street.

“The sunset from these windows is my favorite view,” Sandra said.

The “Library Room” is a tribute to places such as the nearby James V. Brown Library, and the “Horse and Carriage Room,” is dedicated to the arduous former mode of transportation, which existing prior to the trolleys and cars. There is a room dedicated to fires and firefighters called the Fires and Fighters room and one dedicated to the author and philosopher extraordinaire Mark Twain who once visited the Ulman Opera House, a nearby building. In the quaint room is a picture of the opera house with the image of Twain peeking out of an upper window. Twain lectured on Dec. 31, 1969. It was titled “Our Fellow Savages of the Sandwich Islands.”

The hotel also features photographs of Civil War soldiers standing at attention, and after stepping off the elevator on the third floor, is a floor-to-ceiling mural of the flood of 1894 and its widespread damage downtown before the advent of the flood levees in the 1950s.

To the left, is the lobby, with vending and ice machines, as well as a Keurig and microwave, providing a common area to sit and relax.

Here, too, are images of Civil War heroes from the mid-1860s, a transporting train hauling material from the lumber era, and a 1938 radio car.

Another unique feature at the City Hall Grand is the hotel does not have a front desk.

Guests, instead, receive a payment confirmation and a key code prior to arrival in order to enter the building and room.

The city is a great jumping off spot for those who want to visit the nearby mountains, state forests, fish countless high value trout streams, or stroll along hiking paths or ride the bicycle trails.

Also, the hotel is three blocks away from the Susquehanna River Walk, a pathway that offers excellent views of the Central Business District and nearby South Williamsport, and Loyalsock Township.

In the year ahead, the Butters have another surprise planned.

It is a restaurant – “The Newsroom.”

For now, though, the restaurant is a work in progress.

“We might have a New Year’s Eve soft opening,” Sandra said.

The guests are special to the Butters and, in return, they provide feedback.

“Many of our guests are repeats,” Sandra said. “Some of them say they enjoyed the themes and want to stay in a different room each visit.”


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