The history of Hotel Sterling began with the construction of the building on the corner of Market and River Streets in Wilkes-Barre, PA in 1897. It was built by Walter Sterling, at the site of the Wilkes-Barre Music Hall. It was the city's first Neo-Classical Revival building, and it featured a two story marble-finished lobby with a skylight.
Mr. Sterling sold the building in the early 1920s to Homer Mallow, and the name of the business changed to Hotel Mallow Sterling.
In 1922, a 17 story hotel called the Plaza Tower was built right next door, which was the tallest building in the city and provided a good deal of competition. Both the Sterling and 175 foot tall Plaza Tower building were purchased by Andrew Sordoni in 1936, and were connected to form one Sterling Hotel system.
In the 1970s the buildings were used as apartments, then condemned by the city in 1998. Ownership issues, unpaid taxes, and a fire in 2000 all kept the building from being re-used, and they stood abandoned for a few years.
In late 2005, the non-profit organization CityVest who owns the property received approval to redevelop the original hotel building into residential and commercial space. The rooms and hallways in the 17 story Plaza Tower were deemed too narrow and low for redevelopment, and the building was demolished in February 2007. Plans to demolish the original 1897 building are currently underway.