KITAKYUSHU (Kyodo) Demolition work began Friday on the Sanyo Hotel in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture, an inn that used to accommodate guests ranging from members of the Imperial family to U.S. baseball legend Babe Ruth.

“We have decided to demolish it even though it is a historic building because it is quite run down and might collapse if an earthquake hits,” said an official at West Japan Railway Co., which owns the facility.

The Sanyo Hotel opened in 1902 and became the accommodation of choice for Japanese royals and high-ranking government officials who stopped in Shimonoseki before going by sea to China. Other famous guests included deaf-blind American author Helen Keller.

The hotel went out of business in 1942, a year after the undersea rail link between Shimonoseki and Moji, Fukuoka Prefecture, opened.

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