“The Empire Hotel was once the place for orchestras, commerce, fine dining and sterling conversation.”
The Legacy of The Empire began in 1855:
Attorney Nathanial Boyden began construction on the 3-story building that would become the Boyden House. Construction lasted until December 1855 and the hotel formally opened in May 17, 1859. Over the years the building transferred owners to become the Davis House, the Central Hotel and lastly the Empire Hotel.
Over the years the building has gone through a number of radical changes. With major remodeling and uplifting in 1907 under the direction of architect Frank Milburn.
It’s characterized by ornate architectural motifs, handsome windows and its sheer size. It takes up at least half the 200 block of South Main Street. Remaining of the orignal 1855 hotel is a 20’ wide section just above the lobby.
“It has seen the poor and the rich, the eccentric and the normal. Once it was the center of informal gatherings of the town’s leaders, the site of the most fashionable balls. Today, it lives a rather hum-drum life as a small, mainly residential hotel with little of the flavor of its salad days.”
– Salisbury Post Managing Editor George Raynor, 1959 on the hotel’s 100th birthday.
The Empire Hotel closed for good in 1963, leaving its rooms empty for almost 40 years. At its closing, it had 28 “residential guests,” having become, in later years, more apartments than hotel rooms.
From the 1890’s until 2007, the building was owned by the Ragsdale family from Jamestown. Downtown Salisbury Inc. is the current owner.