Earlier this century, when I wrote my classic hotels book, Hotels to Remember, I never once realized how quickly the old edifices transform. Not only are the buildings renovated, expanded, and redecorated, they also change ownership.
When I read today about the sale by DuPont of their 130-year-old theater located with the 12-story Hotel du Pont in Wilmington, I was especially saddened. I included a side segment about that theater in my book which devotes a large section to the beautiful old hotel that is filled with numerous art treasures.
Almost before my book was off the presses, one of the hotels had added a new section that transformed its size and guest perception. I hadn't anticipated a change so quickly. I also had not expected sales to new ownerships that gave different faces and names to the structures. One of the hotels I selected because I found its relationship with the community so special was closed several years ago with the anticipation of renovation and reopening. That project for Hilltop House in Harper's Ferry WV was put on hold in 2010. The St. Louis hotels I included have been renamed or are gone. Only the ancient and truly historic places like the Hotel Del Coronado in California, the El Tovar on the edge of the Grand Canyon, and the Homestead in Hot Springs VA have remained the same. And these special destinations have undergone a few renovations.
Someone mentioned to me several years ago that a book like mine is truly a "Snapshot in Time." I understand that now. In fact, my publisher has taken out sections from my book, and we have created little "Snapshot in Time" books.
While I was writing my coffee table book, I wish I had understood how quickly things can change. Even so, I would still be distressed by the sale of the DuPont Theater that will be renamed The Playhouse on Rodney Square. Sadly, hotel books can only be "A Snapshot in Time."