|By Christine SteeleSun-News Bureau Chief
sc, Silver City Sun-News, N.M.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
May 19, 2012--SILVER CITY After a seven-year renovation, the Murray Hotel will reopen next week, just in time for the Blues Fest.
Originally built by the Ryan and Murray families of Grant County, the grand, five-story hotel was the tallest building in Silver City and remains so today. First opened for business in 1938, with 52 rooms, storefronts, a dining room, coffee shop, and bar, the hotel expanded in 1949 with the addition of a ballroom and 48 additional guest rooms.
During its heyday, the Murray was a symbol of elegance and prosperity and the centerpiece of downtown Silver City. Grand parties held in its ballroom are still legendary among long-time area residents. After the family sold the hotel in the 1960s it began to fall into disrepair, and for many years it has stood empty, neglected and vandalized, a sad ghost of its former grandeur. While the building has had a number of different owners over the years, its unusual concrete and masonry construction, combined with its size, managed to defy previous attempts at revitalization.
Current owners Kurt and Julianna Albershardt fell in love with Silver City on their first visit in 2004 and with the Murray the first time they saw it. They were quick to realize the building s potential, as well as its challenges, and purchased it in 2005.
After talking with Main Street (officals), and pretty much everyone who stopped by the building or heard that we'd bought it, there was a strong consensus that the people of Silver City wanted the Murray Hotel back, Julianna said. They wanted a full-service downtown hotel. They wanted to have the ballroom and banquet rooms for weddings and other events. They wanted downtown space for small conventions. And so the Murray Hotel was to be resurrected as a hotel, not just as a building.
A few Silver City residents have gotten a glimpse of the inside of the old hotel while it has been undergoing renovations, including the 350 who attended the Mimbres Region Arts Council s Black Tie Ball Fundraiser in December 2010.
(That) was our first pre-public event, Albershardt said then. It let people know that there is something going on with the hotel and it offered a preview of what kind of events we want to host.
The Ball was a huge success for the Arts Council, and Albershardt said he received "overwhelmingly positive feedback" regarding the ballroom. Now, after a multi-million dollar, multi-year restoration, the Albershardt s dream is about to become reality as the Murray prepares to welcome its first overnight guests in decades.
The Murray will reopen Thursday with 48 guest rooms just in time for the annual Silver City Blues Festival. An additional 28 rooms are expected to open in June, with the ballroom and banquet rooms following later this summer.
The building is equipped with all new state-of-the art mechanical and electrical systems and is expected to use about a quarter of the energy it previously required. The 75-year old building has maintained its original Streamline Art Deco style, while bringing the guest experience up to 21st century standards.
This long-derelict structure will be rejuvenated and a lost treasure of Historic Downtown reclaimed when the Murray opens its doors once again. For information or reservations, call (575) 956-9400 or visit www.murray-hotel.com.
Christine Steele can be reached at (575) 538-5893 ext. 5802.
(c)2012 the Silver City Sun-News (Silver City, N.M.)
Visit the Silver City Sun-News (Silver City, N.M.) at www.scsun-news.com
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