Carlisle History

A living history of Carlisle, PA

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The James Wilson Hotel

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Molly Pitcher Hotel | James Wilson Hotel | Alan Duxbury Int. | Elaine Livas Int. | Marguerite Grove-Harnish Int. |Lodging Then and Now | The Transformation of Downtown Lodging |

 

The Molly Pitcher and the James Wilson have comparable histories. The James Wilson Hotel is now known as Safe Harbour. Safe Harbour is a shelter and human service center for homeless families and battered women and their children. The James Wilson Hotel was one of the more popular hotels here in Carlisle during the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. The James Wilson Hotel was located on South West Corner of High Street and Pitt. It opened up as the James Wilson Hotel on August 18, 1938, according to an article in the Sentinel titled, “Argonne Renamed James Wilson Hotel” printed on August 18, 1938. During this time it was owned my Beauford S. Swartz who decided on the name change, borrowing the name of a Carlisler who played a distinguished role in the formation of the country 150 years ago…announced today the change of its name to James Wilson Hotel.” Swartz decide2042913038_a6d2a1133c.jpgd to change the hotel name from Argonne to The James Wilson Hotel not only because the property was once owned by James Wilson but also because he was one of the signers of the constitution. He was also a very important figure in early American history.

Wilson bought this property from Richard Tea in 1772. According to this 1938 article in the Sentinel, Wilson began living in this Tavern in 1769 soon after it became the Mansion House. wilson-1784.bmp

Looking at both images you can see that the property has not changed very much from the early 1800’s. In the picture of the James Wilson Hotel you can still see the similarites between the structure of the buildings. The structure of the property is still very much the same.[1] It is also important to point that a train onced stopped directly in front of the hotel. High Street seemed to be very busy.

The culture and atmosphere in and around the downtown a visable different during these time periods. It is important to note the change and advancements in transportation because it had a huge impact on the culture of downtown carli

There are various ads that went out during this time. The Argonne Hotel right before it became The James Wilson Hotel had a printed ad in 1936 that read in big bold letters “Argonne Hotel and Coffee Room” right under this it read in quotation marks ‘Carlisle most popular Hotel’. The Molly Pitcher also ran an ad the same year that read in big bold letters “Carlisle’s Only Modern Hotel” I’m sure the competition was tough at this point especially at when everything is changing the way people travel has changed forever.

sle. The change in how people traveled really impacted the culture of downtowns all over the United States. because the train stop in the center of town there was no need for businesses to advertise as much as they have to now. People were constantly in and out of town. Whether they were coming into the downtown to shop, staying at the Molly Pitcher or James Wilson, or eat at the local restaurant there were people coming into Carlisle.

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According to Sentinel printed on October 13, 1936 the last train to run along High Street was on October 16, 1936. This is just 3 years after the Argonne Hotel changed its name to the James Wilson Hotel. [1]The fact that the a train no longer ran on High Street meant that Mr. Swartz had to revamp the Hotels appearance to keep up with the competition. In the 1938 Sentinel article about the rename of the hotel also speaks of the numerous renovations happening, “…the community’s oldest hotel is undergoing remodeling that has completely altered its outward appearance and enlarged and modernized its interior.” The James Wilson was trying to keep up with their biggest competitor The Molly Pitcher Hotel.When I asked Marguerite which one she perfered she said, “That was nice too but it wasn’t as elegant as the Molly Pitcher…it just didn’t have the flair that the Molly Pitcher had when it was nice.”There are various ads that went out during this time. The Argonne Hotel right before it became The James Wilson Hotel had a printed ad in 1936 that read in big bold letters “Argonne Hotel and Coffee Room” right under this it read in quotation marks ‘Carlisle most popular Hotel’. The Molly Pitcher also ran an ad the same year that read in big bold letters “Carlisle’s Only Modern Hotel”

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In the 20’s 30’s and 40’s people still came intothe downtown. Trains didn’t stop running until the 40’s. In the 1950’s interstates and motels were coming about. This was the beginning of the decline of the downtown area and the raise of what has come to be known as the “single room occupancy crisis.”

 

Molly Pitcher Hotel | James Wilson Hotel | Alan Duxbury Int. | Elaine Livas Int. | Marguerite Grove-Harnish Int. |Lodging Then and Now | The Transformation of Downtown Lodging |

1 Comment

One response to “The James Wilson Hotel”

  1. G. Mark Ford says:

    James Wilson was my 6th Great-grandfather on my mothers side. Had I known two years ago what I know now, I’d have stopped in Carlisle while driving across PA. Next time I’m up that way I’ll be sure to stop by for a visit. I’m originally from New Jersey, but have resided in the Carolina’s for the last 20+ years. I enjoyed reading about the history of Carlisle. Thanks.

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