The following article was written by Lisa Pellegrene, and was originally published by Patch.com on April 18, 2019.

Victoria Filonenko plans to restore The Westholm Hotel to a healing center with beautiful gardens. This is a historic property in Stamford.

The Westholm Hotel

Victoria Filonenko, owner of The Westholm Hotel, has plans of restoring the historic property to a healing center. In a recent interview, Filonenko discussed her initial interest in the property, namely the remarkable history which lead to her desire and willingness to restore it as the new owner. “I am fascinated by the beauty and the history of this hotel. When I visited the property initially I sensed warmth, love and maybe even the mystery.” She continued, “when I saw the murals by Lamont Warner, I knew right away that I wanted to buy the hotel in order to save what could be saved.” This was in April of 2014. Filonenko didn’t purchase the property at that point. Her serious thoughts of purchasing and restoring the property resurfaced in 2016. “It was still for sell, and at that point I felt as if it was waiting for me and I started making plans to purchase and to restore the hotel to its splendor.”

Lamont A. Warner, the artist of the murals inside of The Westholm Hotel was an American designer, teacher and an artist. He was also an industrial designer of furniture. Warner’s work is known from initial drawings in the Craftsman, and Stickley’s Magazine, which promoted his company’s products. Warner designed the interiors of several YMCA buildings throughout the country. He taught at Columbia University, Cooper Institute, NY University and 26 years at Stamford Central School. During his lifetime of 96 years, he created many paintings on canvas depicting and truly recreating through art, the stunning landscapes of the Delaware County Scenery. Lamont Warner’s murals reflect the landscape of Stamford in the fall. According to Filonenko, “Mt. Utsayantha, Odell Lake, as well as the Mohican Tribe who lived in the Stamford area are painted on the walls of Grand Hall of the Westholm.” Continuing, “There are still murals in the Grand Hall. A total of six Lamont Warner murals remain in the hotel.” Victoria Filonenko brought one of the murals home with her and has restored it, and explained the one was in disrepair, due to water damage, it could not be restored.

Dr. Stephen E. Churchill is another Stamford Native who Victoria Filonenko mentioned when discussing the history of the town. Dr. Churchill is known for devoting his life to the improvement of Stamford. He promoted education, and he was also responsible for the water and sewage system. He was the founder and developer of two of the largest hotels in Stamford, Churchill Hall and the Rexmere. Filonenko learned that The Westholm Hotel was a favorite place of Mama Gabor and her daughters. Some have shared their memories with Filonenko of Jolie Gabor driving her pink Cadillac. “She would go out for afternoon tea with her friend, Mrs. Reynard, who lived near The Westholm Hotel from what I’ve been told,” as stated by Victoria Filonenko.

A woman who follows The Westholm Hotel page on Facebook recalled a story which indicates the thriving economic climate which surrounded the hotel in its heyday. Stating that her mother, Mae (Wright) Reed worked at The Westholm Hotel when Mrs. Hiscox owned it in the 1930’s, “my mom loved to tell the story about when Mrs. Hiscox had said to her that she “hadn’t taken up her wages, and the women stated, my mom replied that her tips were so good that she hadn’t needed to at that point.” Reeds daughter worked for Mrs. Hiscox’s grandson, Bill Hutchinson, an attorney in the area for thirty seven years. Concluding, “We always enjoyed sharing that story.”

The Westholm Hotel is due for restoration and Victoria Filonenko is determined to do just that.

Filonenko is looking forward to complete restoration of the hotel. According to the current owner, Victoria Filonenko, she had a new foundation built under a rear collapsing wall, which has been repaired and reinforced. One of the buildings on the property, outside of the main hotel will have to be torn down due to the loss of structure over the years since its closing. Concluding the article, Victoria Filonenko also mentioned what she referred to as “The Story of Utsayantha” or “The Legend of Utsayantha,” stating, “I was told that this story was made up to attract tourists, yet in my opinion I wonder what truth there is to this legend.”

In addition to restoring the hotel to a healing and meditation center in the future, Filonenko plans to build beautiful serenity gardens. Dates for additional restoration efforts have not been confirmed yet, although she did state she is moving forward to garner additional support for her efforts to restore the property. Filonenko worked with photographer Thomas W.P. Slatin to document the property through photographs, prior to commencing further restoration efforts. More photographs of The Westholm Hotel may be found on the Facebook page for The Westholm, and on Slatin’s website, www.tomslatin.com.

Be sure to follow the Facebook page for The Westholm Hotel to stay updated on the progress of the restoration efforts.

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Article written by Lisa Pellegrene.

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