Although there are 100s of hotels in Charlottesville today, one of the most historic is the Gleason Hotel (today referred to as the Old Albemarle Hotel). Located on Main Street, near the Amtrak Station, the building has been repainted in a bright yellow, with white trim. The hotel was built in 1897 by Michael S. Gleason for $12,000. Next door, Hase’s Imperial Cafe was built for $3000. The name “Albemarle Hotel” dates to the 1930s when the original owners went bankrupt and sold the hotel.
The hotel was condemned in 1976. Today it operates as a series of shops with apartments above.
Multiple renovations left their imprint and provide a treasure map for curious passerbys. For example, if you go around to the back of the hotel you will see the remnants of plain “structural stars” for providing support between the stories. You will also notice a technique called “quoining” (the non-linear vertical brick work), used to enhance the support for the corners of buildings. The location of this feature suggests that this was originally the corner of the building, with a later addition visible today. If you look along the western side of the building you will see the remains of staircases and if you continue to study the brickwork you will realize that there was once a contiguous building on this side. The front of the building contains numerous architectural features: Corinthian columns,
a recessed loggia (the ground floor gallery that is open to the street), and brick pilasters (rectangular columns).
The hotel is on the national historic register.
If you wish to read more about this structure, visit the DHR site and download file 104-374 (the property is located at 617-619 W. Main St.). You will need adobe acrobat to read the file. An historic photo of the building is provided to illustrate the once continguous buildings. Visit a UVA site to read more.