Once destined for the wrecking ball, a grand office building from the 20th Century in Youngstown, Ohio, has been given a second life in the 21st as a Doubletree Hotel by Hilton, Youngstown Downtown at 44 East Federal Plaza. The historic Stambaugh Building (once home to Youngstown Sheet & Tube Company, a department store, and myriad business offices) retains its marble wainscoting, brass and mahogany finishings, and terra cotta detailing in its new life.
At second glance, the exterior of the Stambaugh Building seems a bit “off”. It turns out that the first eight floors of the Neoclassical building were completed and opened in 1907. The location was so successful — and 100% occupied — that the owners added four more floors by 1914.
Signature Chocolate Chip Cookie
I was a bit behind schedule pulling up to the hotel on a rainy Friday evening, so I was especially grateful that the signature amenity of the Doubletree brand remains intact: the warm chocolate chip cookie presented to guests at check-in.
The hotel lobby is on the second floor (a restaurant and future coffee shop are on either side of the elevator bank on the first, alongside the original mail chute. The original is still there, albeit not in use). The marble behind the check-in desk is historic, but the brass spangles are new.
I was transfixed by the sepia-toned photographs on the walls of my room. It turns out that they’re pictures of objects found left behind in the abandoned offices of the neoclassical building — early 20th century telephones and typewriters, various fittings and fixtures, and office supplies, captured on film just as they appeared in the derelict rooms.
The hotel has a fitness center and a 24-hour business center plus meeting rooms and a top-floor ballroom accented by 13-foot ceilings, Palladian windows, and views over downtown from 12 stories up. There’s no swimming pool, but there is a convenient work-around. Hotel guests can use the facilities — including the indoor and seasonal outdoor pools — of the Central YMCA, literally next door.
Rust Belt Relics
Noted industrial architect Albert Kahn designed the building for John and George Stambaugh, who were central figures in the development of Youngstown’s historic steel and iron industries more than a hundred years ago — yes: the city is in the Rust Belt, still struggling to redefine itself. The population, now about 64,000, has plummeted 60% since 1959.
The Doubletree Hotel is the first downtown hotel since a motor inn closed in 1974.
The Stambaugh building was in a shambles in 2012, when renovation began, spearheaded by NYO Property Group. It took almost six years to bring it to Hilton Doubletree standards while preserving the historical elements of the structure. The goal, the renovators said, was to make the hotel “classic and elegant and timeless, but modern and refreshed.”
The Doubletree began hosting guests in February 2018, and is operated by Marshall Hotels and Resorts.
The interior stairway maintains its original marble steps, metal detailing of the risers and banisters, and polished wood handrails. “Starburst” chandeliers have been added, and windows on each landing bathe the area in soft light (making it a popular place for wedding pictures).
Historic Hotels of America®, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation for recognizing and celebrating historic hotels, inducted this Doubletree Hotel by Hilton into membership in 2018.
Hotel Scoop has reviewed many historic properties, including Montana’s Glacier Park Lodge.
(Photos by Susan McKee and courtesy of the Doubletree Hotel by Hilton, Downtown Youngstown, Ohio. Susan was a guest of the hotel during her stay, but her opinions are her own.)