City Hall Grand Hotel: Where to stay in Pennsylvania Eber Culver architectural designs Historic hotels in Pennsylvania hotel Pennsylvania hotel Williamsport Hotels near me Lifestyle Williamsport Lodging

History Brought to Life

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  • August 26, 2019
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City Hall Grand Hotel Exterior

Williamsport LANDMARK


City Hall Grand Hotel Williamsport
Once a city government hub, the Williamsport, PA, City Hall was transformed into a hotel that will delight anyone who appreciates an artful renovation of a historic property. The “Trumpeter,” Civil War monument erected 120 years ago, welcomes guests and passers-by.

All photos by Joan Mead-Matsui unless otherwise noted.

The transformation of a vacant, multi-level municipal building into lodging that appeals to travelers from all walks of life was a challenge for the City Hall Grand Hotel designers. Yet, the city hall repurposed three years ago, is a perfect example of design ingenuity. The late Joshua Butters saw this project as an opportunity to showcase Pennsylvania historic architecture, preservation, adaptive reuse, and revitalization of a downtown building.

Step into this historic downtown Williamsport, PA building and time stands still. If you envision a grand old style structure that features wooden interior doors with frosted glass and everything down to the doorknobs screams city government hub, you’re on the mark. If you’re looking for re-purposed historic hotels near Wellsboro or the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania, this grand hotel is within an hour from outdoor recreation attractions.

As I set out to find lodging in the vicinity of a well-known fishing creek, the room descriptions and images on the hotel’s website prompted me to book a room for my sons and me. After hearing about the restoration project from the hotel’s manager, I knew City Hall Grand Hotel would be a treasure we had to see in person.

City Hall Grand Hotel Exterior
The towers are a focal point throughout the city. If you lose your way as you’re sightseeing around town, the towers will guide you back to City Hall Grand Hotel. Photo by Kento Matsui

Eber Culver: If He Could See It Now

Eber Culver, one of the city’s most prominent architects saw his design come to life when the City Hall was built in 1893. The five-story former city hall in the heart of downtown Williamsport, PA, with its two towers and yellow brick trimmed in stone, molded brick ornamentation and columns of terra cotta, is a sight to behold. On Nov. 7, 1976, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places. 

Culver’s city hall has its place alongside another historic Williamsport landmark, the “Trumpeter,” a Civil War monument erected 120 years ago. Walk along the streets of the former “Lumber Capital of the World” and you’ll find other fine examples of antiquity and the city’s industrial heritage. Williamsport offers the traveler a taste of the past and important insight into Pennsylvania’s array of industries.

Although the building’s exterior facade has remained unchanged due to rules that govern the treatment of historic properties, the stone, and architectural detailing pave the way for what’s in store inside. Step inside with me to catch a glimpse of this re-purposed historic City Hall .

City Hall Grand Hotel Williamsport PA Treasure

On the first floor, commercial tenants set up their offices but only a few steps away, down the hall, is where the hotel design show begins. There are no better words to describe the City Hall Grand Hotel than a thriving example of creative, quality craftsmanship, and adaptive reuse. 

The interior reveals Williamsport’s industrial heritage while offering guests modern-day comforts. During the renovation, brick and lumber were salvaged and incorporated as key elements in the overall design.

City Hall Grand Hotel, Williamsport, PA

City Hall Grand Hotel offers two types of rooms: Traditional and Hulk Rooms.

HULK ROOM? What’s a Hulk Room?

The late Josh Butters (Hulk Destruction, Construction, and Salvage Company) came up with the name to convey his appreciation for the city’s history and individuals who led it to prosper and grow. Authenticity isn’t limited to the names he gave to the guestrooms. Butters honored Williamsport when he mapped out the design of each one-of-a-kind room.

Many of the Hulk Rooms feature open showers and separate toilet rooms lending a European flair. Guests who are traveling with children and need more privacy should request the “Flood” or Lumber rooms.

City Hall Grand Hotel Guest Room Open Bathroom
An open floor plan in many of the Hulk guestrooms featured an open shower room that’s ideal for couples and single guests. See the image directly below for another take on the open bath area.
City Hall Grand Hotel open floor plan second view
Brick and tile line the walls and floors in the Hulk bathroom shown below.

Several of the Hulk Rooms feature a sliding door that can be adjusted to close off a section of the room to give adults traveling with children more privacy. Be sure to ask for one of those guest rooms when you book your reservation.

City Hall Grand Hotel Industrial Heritage Shown Throughout the Building
You’ll be captivated with the restored photographs displayed throughout the hotel. “The Lumber Room” reflects the city’s title as the former Lumber Capital of the World. Some of the photos date back to the 1800s. Shown is one of the many tables Butters handcrafted.
Hulk Lumber Room City Hall Grand Hotel
A close-up photo of the late Joshua Butters’ craftsmanship shows off wood as one of Williamsport’s primary industries: Lumber.

Every detail, from the bed frames and sliding doors to the sink and light fixtures have Butter’s creative stamp.

City Hall Grand Hotel Crafted Lighting Fixtures
Soft task lighting adds a touch of minimalism to a Hulk Room at City Hall Grand Hotel, a re-purposed historic City Hall building in Williamsport, PA.

He designed and crafted many of the accents exclusively for the City Hall Grand Hotel owners, Tim and Sandra Butters, whose vision for the late Victorian-Romanesque Revival-style building ties in with its former title, “Lumber Capital of the World.” No two rooms are alike.

Salvaged lumber and hardware are repurposed in each guest room. Wood and metal were repurposed as headboards and other accent pieces.

Traditional Rooms

Yes, you have a choice from a Hulk or Traditional room in the City Hall Grand Hotel but the design scheme is anything but generic. Custom-made fixtures mix with the new, antique, and repurposed to create an artful atmosphere.

City Hall Grand Hotel Decorative Accents
Take note of the hand-crafted sinks and other fixtures created by Joshua Butters and other local craftsmen.
One common trait is the attention to detail and the “Origami” swan you’ll find perched upon your bed when you arrive.

Once you roll up the blinds you’ll enjoy the light that floods the room through large windows. A private toilet and shower room and a soft color palette are among the charms you’ll find in a City Hall Grand Hotel traditional room. Most rooms in this magnificent re-purposed historic City Hall are furnished with a mini-refrigerator and Keurig machine.

Two of the Traditional Rooms are equipped with a Jacuzzi Tub
If soaking in a tub filled with soothing, warm bath water is your idea of relaxation, request a room with a Jacuzzi tub.

Don’t expect to find a front desk in the lobby or anywhere else at City Hall Grand Hotel. One additional feature we love is the absence of wait time when you check-in. Guests receive a payment confirmation and a key code prior to their arrival.

From the ceiling to floor, expect the unexpected elements.
One of the show-stopping architectural details is an original glass ceiling in one of the Hulk Rooms.

In a world filled with lodging options, you don’t want to miss out City Hall Grand Hotel conveniently located in downtown Williamsport at 454 Pine Street. Plan a visit for the sake of seeing this treasure or combine your stay with a trip to one of the nearby attractions. We visited Clyde Peeling’s Reptiland, which led to an extraordinary video interview with founder, Clyde Peeling. The following day we set out for Rock Run for an afternoon hike to one of Pennsylvania’s most beautiful array of waterfalls.

Visit to book your getaway.


My lodging was comped but my opinions are my own and based on my experiences. Many thanks to the City Hall Grand Hotel management for the opportunity to spend two nights exploring and enjoying the hotel and Williamsport.

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