A Rich History in Arts and Entertainment
The Hager Hotel was built in 1914 as the Castello Hotel. Featuring a basement restaurant, two retail shops on the first floor, apartments on the second, and a warehouse/storage on the third.
As with many locations in Hagerstown, there were undoubtedly basement tunnels connecting to other buildings in the area. It is possible that these tunnels may have been used during prohibition to smuggle alcohol into the hotel restaurant. Having the restaurant in the basement would have made this an ideal location for a speakeasy.
Performers would often practice in rooms on the second floor for later performance at the Maryland Theatre nearby. The Castello Hotel truly has a deep rooted history in arts and entertainment.
The hotel was often frequented by performers from the Maryland Theatre, and even saw a few performances of its own.
-Johnny Reynolds who climbed the outside of the hotel, doing tricks as he climbed, then performing additional tricks on the roof of the building using a table and chairs in 1917
-Professor B. G. Burt who played piano in the current bar area of Act Black Box for over 18 hours straight in an effort to beat his own endurance record in May of 1926
And Multiple Tragedies
March 24, 1926, a fire gutted part of the Castillo Hotel. A musician was struck by a falling beam while evacuating the hotel. While it is thought that there were no deaths in the fire, the extensive damage meant there was no way to be completely sure
August 17, 1940, a 17 year old boy suddenly became ill and died inside the hotel while visiting a friend who resided there
December 20, 1941, a resident was a victim of a brutal attack when he discovered two other men in his room stealing $10 from him
October 24, 1947, a man who resided at the hotel was crushed to death while working at a nearby farm
More Recent Times
The former hotel rooms are now apartments. The basement and first floor are homes of former restaurants including Flying Pie Co. Pizza and C&O Infusions. As part of the documentary we tried to interview some of the more recent employees about their experiences there. Only one was willing to even speak about it.
We were asked by Authentic Community Theatre to film a documentary about the history of the hotel, and investigate ACT Black Box and see if we can find any historic relics hidden in the location. Especially of interest would be any hidden tunnels leftover from the prohibition era or early days of the hotel.