Historical notes courtesy of John DeFerrari:
Known as Staunton's "Grande Dame," the Hotel 24 South would probably never have been built if not for the efforts of Alexander Tobie Moore, "one of the best known hotel men of the South," according to the Staunton News-Leader. Moore came to Staunton in 1909 to buy the old Virginia Hotel at a foreclosure auction. He fixed it up and quickly became Staunton's most prominent hotelier, but he knew Staunton needed a bigger, more modern hotel for the 20th century.
In 1922, Moore announced plans to purchase the site immediately adjacent to his Virginia Hotel on Market Street and build a new hotel there, connecting the back of the hotel to the Virginia with a covered arcade. The new hotel would be five stories at street level, with 100 rooms supplemented by at least 50 in the old Virginia. Volunteers from the local Rotary and Kiwanis clubs went door to door selling bonds for the project, and by early 1923 financing was in place.
Moore chose the experienced New York architectural firm of H.L. Stevens & Company to design the new hotel in the popular Georgian Revival style. The Staunton hotel is a particularly fine example of this restrained, neoclassical style. The façade includes neoclassical ornamentation, such as decorative balustrades under the central windows, that lend classical dignity to the building without being overpowering.
In April 1923, construction began, and it opened in May 1924. The grand two-story lobby featured fine walnut furniture and a balustraded mezzanine on the second level. On the south side was the Fountain Dining Room, featuring crystal chandeliers and a small fountain in the center with a statue of a boy with a fish. Next to it was the Colonnade Ballroom, with a sweeping windowed bay at its far end. Perched on the mezzanine level was a handsome Wurlitzer organ, customized to fit its space.
Moore yearned to expand the hotel, and in early 1930 he had the old Virginia Hotel demolished, planning to build a new, larger extension of the Stonewall Jackson in its place. But financing became impossible as the Great Depression sunk in, and the addition was never built. Sadly, Moore died in a tragic automobile accident in 1935, leaving his widow, Elizabeth Clemmer Moore, to run the hotel. Moore renovated and operated the hotel until selling it in 1947.
In the early 1960s, a giant neon sign was installed on the roof reading "Stonewall Jackson Hotel" to try to attract motorists to the old downtown hotel. It was not enough, and the hotel closed in 1968.
Allen Lee Persinger and Katharine Grove Persinger, longtime Staunton residents, purchased the Stonewall Jackson and reopened it as a residential hotel and assisted living facility for senior citizens, modeling it on other hotels that had been repurposed in this way. The hotel continued to serve the local community for several more decades, while the Persingers dreamed of someday being able to restore the grand old lady to her former glory and reopen her once again as a first-class hotel.
In 2003 a successful renovation plan finally came together. A multi-party financing arrangement was worked out that created a new conference center on the north side of the hotel while also updating and carefully restoring the original hotel. All told, therenovated hotel boasted 124 guest rooms, 10 new meeting rooms in the conference center, and a brightly restored lobby, ballroom, and dining room.
At the start and throughout the project, there were discussions regarding the name of the hotel, and the presence of the landmark sign was one reason it was decided the Stonewall Jackson Hotel name should be retained. However, by 2020, the decision was made to rename the property, and the name was changed to Hotel 24 South, reflecting the hotel's address and its legacy dating back to 1924. As the hotel begins its second hundred years of existence, it stands as a vital element of the city's continued downtown revival.