The Hotel Stratford is a historic hotel in Alton, Illinois. It opened in 1909 under the name the Illini Hotel. St. Louis architectural firm Barnett, Haynes & Barnett designed the hotel in the Classical Revival style. The came up with this gorgeous five-story brick building. On which features brick quoins, limestone bands, sweeping window sills, views of the Mississippi River and terra cotta-ornamentation.
One year after opening the hotel opened a rooftop garden and a reception room. By 1912 it became one of the hotels which drew many visitors to Alton; a contemporary newspaper account described the building as part of the "greatest improvement in property in the city of Alton". In 1925, new owner E. J. Lockyer renamed the hotel to its current name. This decision was largely influenced by the new owners love for everything Shakespeare.
Though by 1990 the hotel had started to crumble and was no longer the place to be seen, the Hotel Stratford was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2000. At this point, only one floor remained open, with 12 rooms available for guest use. Also at this time, it was prominently featured in a major motion picture; “The Big Brass Ring”. However; it was featured as a run-down hotel in the film.
After more than 100 years, in 2011; the historic Hotel Stratford closed its doors on Halloween (Oct. 31, 2011). Over the century of use, the hotel served as a restaurant, bar, banquet center and home for several long-term residents.
The current owner, Bill Moyer; said there still are two permanent residents at the hotel, and they are finding new places to live. A few street-level businesses below the hotel, including Edward Jones, the Sierra Club, and WBGZ Radio, still operate after the hotel's closure. Moyer said he plans to prepare the structure for "hibernation" in the hopes that he someday will be able to fulfill his dream of renovating the building to its former glory. Let’s hope Bill can make this happen before it’s too late.
For me, the strangest thing is the radio station still broadcasting from the basement, WBGZ. It’s a local news channel, operated by a group of residents. I’ve found myself listening to their live stream while thinking of my visits to this haunting hotel.
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