Friday, October 08, 2010

What Does the Future Hold for the Hotel Charitone

A momentous time in the history of Lucas County occurred in November 1923 when the majestic Hotel Charitone opened its doors.  Local architect William L. Perkins, designer of many of Chariton’s buildings, out-did himself with this beautiful multi-storied work of art.  The hotel was equipped with all the conveniences of the day, including tile floors, a telephone in every room and the finest restaurant in town.  The hotel not only provided quality housing for the traveling public, it served as a place for local social affairs.

As happens through the years and for a variety of reasons, people began looking elsewhere for answers to their needs.  Thus a magnificent facility, the Hotel Charitone, started to deteriorate and ended up on the Iowa Historic Preservation Alliance as one of the most endangered sites in Iowa.

The Hotel Charitone, in 2006, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its significant association with the development of Chariton as a county seat

Then someone came along with a vision.  In May of 2003, Charles Thomas of Shellsburg, Iowa, unveiled plans for a costly renovation of the Charitone Hotel, while he was speaking at the Lakeview Golf and Country Club.  About 50 residents were on hand at the event hosted by the Chariton Chamber and Development Corporation.  He planned to start renovations before the end of 2003 or shortly after the beginning of 2004.  The plans called for fifteen assisted living apartments planned with a full spectrum of amenities.

Today, the Hotel Charitone stands abandoned, mothballed, and in significant decline. Over the last few years, a portion of the bricks detached from the facade and fell to the sidewalk below. Although the owner took steps to prevent additional damage, including stabilizing the walls, covering the windows with plywood, and blocking the sidewalk with a plywood fence, the building continues to decline. The community, chamber, city officials, and others are discussing the immediate future of the building. Due to safety concerns, the discussion revolves around demolition.  However, the building is an important landmark within the community and should be rehabilitated to create added value to the downtown business district.  The owner wants to rehab the building, but is having difficulty with financing the work needed.

As a result of meetings held throughout 2010 and the vote on September 20th, the Chariton City Council voted unanimously to declare the Charitone Hotel to be a nuisance and to require its owner to provide the structural engineer’s report by December 1.  Depending upon the findings in the report, the Council could give Thomas an extension to abate documented nuisance conditions.

Charles Thomas, his son and his lawyer were in attendance at the September 20th Council meeting and even though the Council members continued to view the Charitone Hotel as an eyesore and a magnet for trouble, Thomas, his wife and son and their attorney, continued to view it as an opportunity.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think it a beautiful historic building that just fell into serious decline. I hope money is raised to save it, please don't knock it down!

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