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A SIGN OF PAST TIMES

Wilson landmark returns to Midland Hotel

POSTED August 26, 2011 4:48 p.m.
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WILSON – On Saturday, Sept. 3, a glowing landmark will return to the Wilson skyline.
The original sign will again adorn the roof of the historic limestone Midland Railroad Hotel. The lighted red sign, which was removed for renovations to the Midland, has been reinstalled, and will be dedicated and lit at 9 p.m. on that Saturday.
“It’s kind of an iconic sign,” said Tom Mahoney, a Dorrance native who along with his wife Heddy purchased the Midland last year. “It’s always just been there. We trying to save a little piece of history.”
 In 1998, the roof-top sign was the first item to be taken down to mark the beginning of a five-year restoration project. The sign stood atop the hotel since the late 1930s and became a local landmark. However, it hadn’t been illuminated for over 20 years.
 In 2003, the $3.2 million renovation was finished and the hotel, owned by the Wilson Foundation, reopened for business. But, the sign was not returned to the roof as was originally planned.
The Mahoneys purchased the Midland in 2010 at auction from the foundation and officially opened it as the Midland Railroad Hotel on that Labor Day weekend. This celebration marks their first anniversary.
The faded sign was sitting outdoors on the hotel property and, since the Mahoneys bought the hotel, the foundation asked them if they wanted sign as well. Mahoney said he remembers growing up and seeing it, so of course he said he’d take it.
That was earlier this summer. “It was just a shell of its former self,” he said
The sign was originally used neon lights. However, to replace those was very costly.
So, reflective paint was used on the lettering and it is lighted from the front, giving the impression on neon. “It looks really good,” Mahoney said.
After the work was done, it stored out of sight on top of the hotel roof. Last Thursday, the like-new sign was returned to its proper location. 
“Now, after 13 years from when the sign was removed and as many as 23 years since it has been lighted, the it is ready to resume its rightful spot,” Mahoney said.
“This will tell people it is a hotel,” he said. There is also a tavern and a restaurant at the Midland.
The Midland, which was built in 1899 and hit it heyday in the 1920s, it’s listed on national and state historic registries. It gives the town what Mahoney calls a “purple cow.”
“Every town needs a purple cow to survive,” he said. “This is something nobody else has.”
The Midland, just a few miles off I-70 and the only hotel between Russell and Denver, has that potential, especially with its historic appeal.
Tours and a meal will also be available. For more information on the hotel, call 785-658-2284, or visit www.midlandrailroadhotel.com.

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