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Exploring the penthouse suite…

October 9, 2021, 10:00 AM

Since last October, whenever Elyse and I have traveled down to Augusta County, we’ve stayed at Hotel 24 South in downtown Staunton.  If you’ve followed this site over the years, you might recognize the place.  Under its original name, the Stonewall Jackson Hotel (the name was changed to Hotel 24 South in September 2020), I photographed the neon sign that used to be on the roof of the building back in 2007, and my sister had her wedding reception there back in 2010.  The building dates back to 1924, and was renovated and expanded to its current form in 2005, restoring its original use as a hotel after having served as an elder care facility for a time.

However, during the 2005 renovation, one section of the building was skipped over: the penthouse suite.  As I understand it, the penthouse suite was never available for rental to guests, but rather, was intended as the owner’s private residence.  I was made aware of the penthouse’s existence by some friends of mine, and we located the door to access the space on our December trip (the primary focus of that trip was paying last respects to Staunton Mall).  At that time, however, the entrance was locked, but we did learn that the penthouse space was excluded from the renovation due to lack of elevator access.  On our next visit, in March, they were doing maintenance work on one of the hotel’s elevators (a mechanical room for the elevators is also up there), and as such, the door was open.  So Elyse and I took a quick tour of the space before we went out for the day.

My impression of the space, based on the vintage architectural and decorative elements present there, is that it has not been used for anything resembling its intended purpose for a very long time, though it is not abandoned.  Rather, it appears that the current hotel management uses the space for storage.  The space does have modern ventilation, as evidenced by a modern air duct running through the hallway to the living room, and it did not smell old or musty.

Stairway leading up to the penthouse from the rest of the hotel.  This stair is the only way to access the penthouse level.  The stairs were in rough shape, with a large chip out of at least one step.
Stairway leading up to the penthouse from the rest of the hotel.  This stair is the only way to access the penthouse level.  The stairs were in rough shape, with a large chip out of at least one step.

Center corridor in the penthouse suite.  Note that the entrance door, in the left of the shot, has a knob in the center, rather than on the end.
Center corridor in the penthouse suite.  Note that the entrance door, in the left of the shot, has a knob in the center, rather than on the end.

Eat-in kitchen.

Eat-in kitchen.
Eat-in kitchen.

Side room off of the living room, with a window to the kitchen.  I suspect that this used to be a dining room.
Side room off of the living room, with a window to the kitchen.  I suspect that this used to be a dining room.

Full bath.  The black tile that you see here is not original, based on the presence of even older tile beneath it on the floor around the toilet flange.  However, all of the various bathroom fixtures, including a toilet and bathtub, have been removed.
Full bath.  The black tile that you see here is not original, based on the presence of even older tile beneath it on the floor around the toilet flange.  However, all of the various bathroom fixtures, including a toilet and bathtub, have been removed.

Living room.  This is the largest room in the penthouse suite, and contains a fireplace, as well as doors to a roof deck.

Living room.  This is the largest room in the penthouse suite, and contains a fireplace, as well as doors to a roof deck.

Living room.  This is the largest room in the penthouse suite, and contains a fireplace, as well as doors to a roof deck.
Living room.  This is the largest room in the penthouse suite, and contains a fireplace, as well as doors to a roof deck.


“A” and “L” channel letters from the former rooftop sign, now stored in the living room, without their neon tubing.

A small room that I believe was once a bedroom, off of the hallway.
A small room that I believe was once a bedroom, off of the hallway.

Another bedroom, possibly the master bedroom, being used for storage.

Another bedroom, possibly the master bedroom, being used for storage.
Another bedroom, possibly the master bedroom, being used for storage.

Big mattress being stored in one of the rooms.  A second full bath is visible behind this.
Big mattress being stored in one of the rooms.  A second full bath is visible behind this.

Light switch, hanging by its wires.  Noting the condition of the light switches, we did not attempt to see if any of the lights worked.
Light switch, hanging by its wires.  Noting the condition of the light switches, we did not attempt to see if any of the lights worked.

Another light switch.  Note the old wallpaper that is peeling, which covered even older wallpaper behind it.
Another light switch.  Note the old wallpaper that is peeling, which covered even older wallpaper behind it.

So that’s the old owner’s suite, up in the penthouse of Hotel 24 South.  It’s a shame that the hotel is not using this space for any revenue-generating purpose, either as a luxury guest suite, or as a rooftop amenity.  As it currently exists, with no elevator access and only a single, relatively narrow stair up here, it is not up to building codes, so any plans to welcome the public into this space would likely require significant construction to bring an elevator up here, as well as the addition of one or more sets of stairs, along with any other work to properly build out the space for a new use.  I could totally see this space in use as a rooftop bar, but based on what I’ve seen as far as nightlife in downtown Staunton goes, I suspect that there’s not enough traffic through there to make a solid business case to justify the amount of construction that would be required to bring it to fruition.

In any case, it was fun to explore what is definitely something of a hidden gem in downtown Staunton.  Elyse and I love staying at Hotel 24 South, and so it’s nice to get to know the ins and outs of what we consider to be our little home away from home whenever we come down here.

Categories: Staunton