The need for a hotel at West Point was recognized by the USMA Board of Visitors in 1820. Over the next several years, funds for the hotel’s construction were accumulated, largely from the sale of wood cut on the military reservation. Erected on Trophy Point at a cost of $18,000, the hotel was opened in the spring of 1829 for the convenience of officers, relatives and friends of cadets, and the visiting public. It was owned by the Government but leased to private individuals to operate for profit. The lessees paid rent for use of the facilities, the receipts of which were placed in the post contingency fund by the Treasurer, USMA, and used to defray the cost of maintenance and repairs on the hotel building.
The first lessee was William B. Cozzens, who was in charge of the Cadet Mess. The Cozzens family retained the lease for many years. The hotel was usually known by the surname of the current proprietor: Cozzens, Roe, Cranston, Carney, and Logan, among others.
During the 19th century several additions were made to the hotel. In 1890, what is now known as Building 148 was built as the laundry to the West Point Hotel.
It accommodated thousands of visitors to the Academy: Government officials, parents of cadets, noted military figures, and other distinguished guests. The hotel served as a social center for cadets and their families. Until 1887, operation and leasing of the hotel was under the direct supervision of the Superintendent; after that date responsibility was vested in the Quartermaster, USMA. However, the Secretary of War had to approve major decisions regarding the property.
By the 20th century the hotel was considered “obsolete and deficient in comfort” and the price of total renovation too prohibitive. An act of March 30, 1920, authorized the Superintendent to lease another part of the West Point reservation for construction and operation of a new hotel. The U.S. Hotel Thayer was subsequently built and opened in June 1926, although the original West Point Hotel continued in operation until it was torn down in 1932.
Contents contributed by Alicia Mauldin Ware, Archives Curator