WILKES-BARRE — Early Thursday morning a crane using demolition tools started taking swings, tearing down the top corner of the Hotel Sterling on West Market Street in Wilkes-Barre.
By the end of the first workday an entire corner of the building was gone exposing old hallways and hotel rooms. Piles of bricks and beams were hauled away and the dust was watered down.
A hotel full of history was peeled open.
“Some people were married there, some people went to a prom. Some people lived and worked there,” said Mayor Tom Leighton.
The damage done by flooding, vagrants and financial hardship proved to be too much to fix the 115-year-old Sterling.
In its heyday, the Sterling served as a luxurious hotel and home to grand parties and banquets.
But in it’s final days, the Sterling became a place to board college students and then low-income apartments. Before it was finally condemned, it was often occupied by the homeless.
“This particular piece of property, the most valuable in Luzerne County, will be dedicated to the history of the great Sterling by the appropriate development,” said Representative Eddie Day Pashinski.
In a contract with the city, Brdaric Excavating agreed to tear down the Hotel Sterling and move all of the debris out of this lot within two months.
The future for this riverfront property is still unclear.
“Over the years there were many attempts to preserve and salvage this building. For many reasons, including a severe economic recession that we’re still grappling with, those attempts were unsuccessful. We must finally remember this buildings past, but we must move forward for the good of this community,” said Mayor Tom Leighton.
There is no word on what the property’s owner, CityVest, plans to do with this lot.
There are no traffic backups in downtown Wilkes-Barre.
City officials say they will review the progress every morning and determine if additional lane closures will be needed on North River and West Market streets to keep everyone safe.
Click here all our Newswatch 16 stories on the Hotel Sterling.