CENTRALIA – A historic building in downtown Centralia has been turned into a new hotel offering a taste of life in the 1920s.
Owner Neil White has opened the Centralia Square Grand Ballroom and Hotel for business. White also owns the Aerie Ballroom and Hub City Club.
Formerly the Elks Lodge, the Centralia Square building has most recently been home to an antique mall in its lower floors, with its upper floors used primarily for storage.
Contractors worked to revamp the entire second floor — including the grand ballroom the Elks once held meetings in — to offer hotel guests an experience similar to what they would have enjoyed in the 1920s when the building was constructed on the corner of Tower Avenue and Locust Street, which is now known as Centralia College Boulevard.
“You can never do something this cool without so many people putting their best work into it,” White said, praising two of his project partners, Mike Duquette and Trent Majors. “This has been a bit of work, but we’ve enjoyed it because we love our city.”
During a tour of the building, White — the brother of Scott White, who is currently leading a major effort to restore the Fox Theatre just a block to the east — pointed out the building’s most massive upgrade, the ballroom. With capacity for 300, the restored ballroom can host weddings, large-scale gatherings and more, complete with a high-fidelity audio system.
“We spent a month or more just working on the walls,” White said.
White and his wife, Jodi, bought the building from John Regan, who still operates the antique mall on the first floor. Berry Fields Cafe operates in an added space at the rear of the building.
Rooms on the second floor of the building each have their own decor while maintaining central features such as wood flooring and queen- and king-sized beds. Each room has its own bathroom with a claw-foot tub, and White says one of the best features is individual climate control.
“Every room has its personal air conditioning and heat,” White said. “It’s absolute comfort.”
Contractors are still working on the third floor, but the second floor is complete and ready for booking. White said the first big weekend of business will come next month when the Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic brings nearly 10,000 people rolling through town.
“There’s a pretty big waiting list,” White said.
White won’t say how much money he has invested in the venture, but jokingly referred to it as “more than $100 and less than $100 million.” He did acknowledge, however, that he invested in the project because he wants the downtown area, and Centralia as a whole, to succeed.
“We want to commit ourselves to Centralia,” White said. “We love our community and we believe in it.”