ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – A redesigned version of the Mark Twain Hotel History Museum has reopened on 160 N. Main Street in downtown Elmira. The museum was first opened on the second floor by the building’s former owner in 2000. The collection was brought down to the ground floor, reorganized, and updated with new items. The building’s owner, Jim Capriotti of Capriotti Properties gave 18 News a tour inside. The displays include everything from glassware and dining sets from the 1930’s, to original menus, room keys, linens, ashtrays, matchbooks and even sugar packets. In 1965 Robert F. Kennedy Jr. also visited the hotel as part of his campaign kickoff to run for U.S. Senate.
“I think my favorite part is actually the construction of the building,” said Capriotti. “You look at these set of photographs, it shows you what was actually here, the buildings that were here that were torn down. Then you can see what the street looked like prior to construction, what it looked like during the demolition of the building process. You can see the Iszard’s Building was already up and standing at this time next door. The way this building was built out of steel and concrete, it was built as a fireproof building which it still is today. There’s concrete floors, concrete ceiling concrete, outside walls, concrete wall between the apartments and the hallway. This structure is a testament to the quality of the building and one of the reasons why the building is still standing today, when all of the other buildings that were built in this time period are essentially gone. It is the only standing building of the hotel period.”
The museum was first set up on the second floor by the building’s former owner in 2000. Sam Halperin, a Resident Liaison with Capriotti Properties, helped transfer the collection downstairs.
“I just sort of brought them down carefully, thing by thing. Luckily managed to not break anything so that was a success for sure,” said Halperin. “We did find a few menus, more photographs in the back that we weren’t able to include when it was up on the second floor.
We also rearranged the chronology, so when you first walk in on the first floor you start with the conception of the hotel, some original renderings. As you move forward you see the original interiors of the hotel, moving towards the events that were held, all the way up to all kinds of fun knick knacks and menus and what not.”
Halperin says the museum is also in search of new items. If you have original items from the Mark Twain Hotel that you would like to donate to be put on display, you contact Sam Halperin by visiting the Capriotti Properties website.
The museum is free and open to the public Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.