A former hotel in the heart of Hannibal's downtown is returning to its roots, as the Traveler's Rooming House takes shape in the second and third floors above The Powder Room at 213 Main St.

A former hotel in the heart of Hannibal's downtown is returning to its roots, as the Traveler's Rooming House takes shape in the second and third floors above The Powder Room at 213 Main St.

Patriot Painting and Project Services owners Curt and Kim Linderman have been working with Chandler Grave and local contractors since February, removing 23,000 tons of plaster and paint, cutting trim from original lathe, and hand-building beds, decor and other elements by hand.

Building owner Barb Crane had the vision for the rooming house when she purchased the historic building in 2008. It began as the Central Hotel, where Abraham Lincoln reportedly stayed. The building went on to house the Alibi Rooming House, with a tavern on the first floor and a brothel on the upper levels. It became an apartment building in the 1960s but is on its way to becoming a destination for lodging and events once again.

Curt Linderman said the team worked with local contractors to make the painstaking process successful. Lampton Electric, Economy Plumbing and Elam Heating and Air Conditioning all offered expertise.

During the month-long demolition phase, team members found several surprises. Some of the discoveries were exciting, like an intact spool of thread, old newspapers, bottles, handwritten letters and a cufflink adorned with an opal. Other things were challenging, like the sections of rotted floor and burned rafters from a fire in the 1930s.

After that stage was complete, Crane, the Lindermans and Grave worked diligently to preserve the historic aspects of the building. Kim Linderman designed an intricate all-wood ceiling for the Woodsman room, using original pieces of lathe arranged in an array of colors and natural grains. Curt Linderman said about 10 percent of the visible materials in the room were new. The sink was constructed with sections of lathe, the bed and wall sections were made from the barn Crane played in as a child and window frames were repurposed as floating picture frames with paintings applied on the exposed brick wall just behind them.

Each room was transforming to reflect a distinct theme with historic elements, such as the Lincoln Room's hand-painted, period-correct flags on the walls and bed, the Industrial Room's ceiling I-beams and detailed metal accents, and the Bridal Suite's romantic decor with champagne colors and chandeliers.

Historic items were used in creative ways, with authentic whiskey barrels serving as sinks and tables, sliding barn doors made from original doors, clawfoot tubs made in 1923 and the vintage Singer sewing machine that belonged to Crane's mother.

“It's an experience in itself to stay here,” Kim Linderman said.

Crane said she looked forward to coming upstairs almost every day, greeted with an enthusiastic sentiment: “Hello, I've got something to show you today.”

The historic elements will join modern amenities like high-speed Wi-Fi, smart televisions and keypad locks for each room.

Curt Linderman said Crane gave them artistic freedom throughout the process. “We really wanted each room to be a work of art,” he said.

Crane echoed that sentiment. “Now to see what you had in your head for ten years come to life, and it be even bigger and better than you had envisioned, leaves me speechless,” she said.

As wall and flooring work moves ahead on the first floor, everyone is planning for a grand opening by the end of September — just in time for the annual Folklife Festival.

“I knew it would come to life someday, I just knew it,” Crane said. “It was a matter of finding the right person who could see the vision and care about it as much as I did. And when I came across these guys, that's when everything started to come into play.”

trevor.mcdonald@courierpost.com