DENISON, Texas (KTEN) — No matter where you are in the city, you can almost always see the top of Hotel Denison.

But for the past few decades the seven-story landmark at 401 West Chestnut Street has been completely empty.

“About the 1980s, it stopped being a hotel and it switched to apartments," said City Council member Brian Hander. "And then about 10 years ago or so, it ceased being apartments as well.”

Nearly 100 years ago, the Hotel Denison was much more than a place to lay your head at night. It was the place to be.  

“There were all kinds of banquets. The Lions Club met here; Rotary met here; everyone met here at the Hotel Denison. It was also where Houdini stayed,” Hander said. “It’s where Eisenhower stayed after he did a speech in Forest Park.”

A postcard depicts the former glory of the Hotel Denison.

Peak Nutrition owner Alissa Ledeboer calls the hotel her neighbor, and employees keep a close eye on it.

“We watch it often because there have been rumors of hauntings in there,” Ledeboer said. “People have talked about 1920s-dressed wait staff moving back-and-forth inside there. We have not gotten to see anything yet, but we’ve only been over here for eight months so far.”

Ledeboer’s favorite piece of its history is the stained glass catwalk leading into the building – although it wasn’t there for the most modest of reasons.

“It was used for the 'ladies of the evening' to move back and forth from their place of residence into the back of the hotel,” she said.

The good news for the city is that there is an ongoing plan to renovate the building back to its former glory.

“It will be a hotel. It’s going to have ballroom dining. It’s going to have big meeting spaces. The little shops behind me are going to be shops again,” Hander said.

Hander expects construction to pick up in the early months of 2023.

The Hotel Denison is a downtown landmark.