Crimes & Disasters
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was a time, in the early days of Akron, when the Sumner House
on North Howard Street and Federal Street, was the town's
leading hotel. It was built on East Market by
Julius A. Sumner,
who was born in Vermont in 1802, and in 1818, with his father,
was engaged in business in old Middlebury. Sumner was one of
the out-standing characters of early Akron. He was one of the
first tavern keepers here. One of his houses was the old Ohio
Exchange. Sumner built both the Empire and Sumner hotels. Both
places, in their time, housed many famous men of the country,
among them being Presidents, Governors, leading actors and
actresses of the time. It was in the Sumner Opera House, a.
part of the hotel, that Akron's famous "Calico Ball" was held
66 years ago. When a boy, Sen. Charles W. Dick sold peanuts,
candy and popcorn in that old playhouse. The early actors came
here from Cleveland on canal boats.
Sumner House was destroyed by fire on October 31, 1876 and was
rebuilt by the owner and was operated by his son, Charles
Sumner with George Hutton as manager. It was enlarged to
contain 64 rooms instead of the original 48 but most of the
rooms were small and shabbily furnished. However, Manager
Hutton set a good table, much better than the Empire. The
Sumner mostly accommodated the traveling man.
The Empire House by Karl
the booming of Akron caused by the phenomenal growth of its
rubber plants came an acute hotel shortage. The stately
Buchtel, once the city's pride, had become outdated. The
ancient Empire House looked upon as a Class Z hotel and the
Windsor had degenerated sadly. A few others existed but
actually they were only poor rooming houses.
group of local men banded together early to provide a modern
hotel early in 1911. They built an eight-story 170 room
Portage Hotel on the site of the old Empire House at the
cost of $600,000.
O'Neil, president of the M. O'Neil Company, was president of
the building company; W.B. Miller, vice-president of the
Diamond Rubber Co., was vice-president; G.B. Motz, was
secretary, and Harry Williams, president of the National
City Bank, was treasurer. Directors were O'Neil, Miller,
A.H. Marks, C.B. Raymond, O.C. Barber, F.A. Dudly and A.H.
on the hotel was started on April 1, 1911, and it was opened
with a grand celebration Tuesday evening Practically every
VIP in Akron attended the formal opening. More than 800 were
served at two dinners, the first at 6pm and the second at
8:30. The festivities lasted all night. The Times reported:
"Akron's beauty and chivalry
gathered last evening to celebrate the completion of one
of the finest hostelries in the state of Ohio. The
beautiful women, gowned in the height of fashion, with
the men who had made Akron known throughout the world
for its industrial and commercial progress, mingled in
the spacious lobby which was a bower of beauty with its
rich furnishings and complimentary floral pieces sent by
Akron's other hotels and business houses and from all
over the country, made the scene one of rare beauty."
House & Windsor
Ferdinand Schumacher entered the hotel business in 1875.
But he did not enter the hotel business to provide better
accommodations for Akron's visitors - what he was
interested in was to provide them with a place to stay
where they would not be tempted by John Barleycorn.
Schumacher was an ardent prohibitionist, in later years he
spent a large portion of his fortune backing the
temperance town of Harriman, Tenn. an ill-starred venture.
the 1870's all the hotels in Akron, even the smallest, had
barrooms. None of them forced their guests to drink, of
course, but Schumacher firmly believed that the proximity
of the barrooms made it difficult for guests to resist
rectify this state of affairs, Schumacher purchased the
old frame church of the Methodist Episcopalians when the
congregation moved into its new church in April, 1875, and
had the building moved from Church and Broadway to the
southwest corner of Mill and Summit, across the street
from the Union Depot.
After extensive remodeling the former church building was
opened late in 1875 as the Cascade House - inasmuch as
Schumacher was the principal owner of the Cascade Mill
Race he liked the name.
The Cascade was strictly a temperance hotel. Schumacher
laid down rigid rules forbidding the sale of serving of
alcoholic drinks under any circumstances. Furthermore, he
let it be known that any bellhop caught snuggling drinks
into hotel rooms would be fired.
All the rooms in the Cascade House were filled almost
every night. It wasn't because Akron's visitors favored
dry hotels, many salesmen came to Akron to get business
from the Schumacher Mills. Mr. Schumacher always made a
point to ask them where they were staying. Salesmen who
were not registered at the Cascade had slim chances of
that as it may, the Cascade prospered so well that in 1878
Schumacher opened another temperance hotel. He purchased
the old May's Building on the northwest corner of main and
Exchange, erected in 1837, remodeled it for hotel use and
named it the Clarendon. The Clarendon Hotel was later
destroyed by fire November 5, 1912 with a reported loss of
1882, just before he started building his giant Jumbo
Mill, Schumacher moved the Cascade House to the northeast
corner of Mill and Broadway, greatly enlarged it,
beautified it with a brick veneer, constructed wide
verandas and a lofty tower, and renamed it the Windsor
Hotel. It was opened for business on a strictly temperance
basis and without ceremonies before 1882 ended.
The hotel had no barroom
during his ownership, although ironically
many years later,
after Schumacher's death the Windsor became notorious as a
Akron's best hotel for 25 years was built by William Buchtel in
1884. He was criticized severely for building the hotel so
far South on Main Street. The only good structure in that
vicinity was the Masonic Temple a block away. At that time
there were nothing else nearby except lumber yards, coal
yards and tumble down shacks. The closing of the P. & O.
Canal north of Mill had not yet been authorized and Main
Street wasn't really a street at all. But Mr. Buchtel was
certain the business section was bound to shift from
Hall's Corner section and he was quite willing to help in
the shifting process. So he proceeded with construction
and his fine hotel, which he named Buchtel, was completed
in in the early spring of 1884.
Five stories high, built of brick and stone the Akron
Times enthusiastically declared that it was the first
hotel in the world which had an electric light plant
powerful enough to furnish lights in every room. The hotel
even had an elevator that was operated by water power.
The formal opening of the hotel was held on Wednesday
April 16, 1884 and was a social event of the first
the committee of arrangements were many of the most
prominent men of the city: George W. Crouse, Col. D.W.
Thomas, Col. A.L. Conger, John R. Buchtel, Paul E. Werner,
W.G. Robinson, William Hardie, Ira M. Miller, William C.
Allen, F.M. Atterholt, Dayton A. Doyle, Dr. G.G. Baker,
D.R. Paige, C.E. Sheldon, H.H. Brown, H.J. Church, J.
Koch, C.P Humphrey, Henry Perkins, F.O. Weary, George R.
Hilt, and James Housel. Col. Simon
Perkins and Philo Chamberlin were honorary members.
provide a large ballroom for dancing, Buchtel rented the
second floor of the newly constructed Ayliffe Blcok on the
opposite side of the mill, and to provide access to it he
built a wooden viaduct of heavy timbers twenty feet above
Mill Street. The viaduct was covered by a canopy and
brilliantly lighted with electric lights.
Weather for the formal opening was not favorable. Cold
winds blew and rain descended in a steady drizzle. But the
weather did not keep the crowd away. More than four
hundred Akronites attended as well as scores of people
from out of town.
The Times reported the following day: "The
dresses worn by the ladies were undoubtedly the richest
and most elaborate ever displayed in this city. Some
special dresses were of beautiful pink or lavender or
snow-white silk, while the rich sable was displayed in
all its elegance. There was such a display of diamonds
and sparkling jewelry that the figures appeared to be
fairly ablaze as the merry dancers skimmed lightly over
Music for the dance was furnished by the Germania
Orchestra of Cleveland and the first two dancers who wnet
on the dance floor were Charles W. Seiberling and Miss
Alice Cook, the latter from Cuyahoga Falls.
The crowd was so large that the guests continued to be
served in the banquet hall until two o'clock the next
morning. The Times added that it was daybreak when the
last of the celebrators left the hotel.
The Buchtel was the leading hotel of Akron for 28 years.
It was deemed unsafe and
in 1947. At that time the building was owned by the Citizens
Savings & Loan Co. of Mansfield.
Young's Hotel opened in
1850 on the southeast shore of Nesmith Lake, near the point
where Manchester Road crossed the Ohio Canal.
This photo was probably
taken around 1860. The American House was on North Howard
near Market street. It was owned and operated by German-born
Florenz Weber, who came to Akron in 1832.
Shortly after Ohio Columbus
Barber founded Barberton in 1890, he built this $75,000 inn
on the shore of Lake Anna, the 18 acre pond he named for his
daughter. The inn had 50 sleeping rooms and 25 "special
rooms fitted up in the most modern style".
Howard - 1910
For forty years (1885-1925)
William R. Palmer was Akron's premier band leader. He
brought the city fame by organizing the 8th Regiment Band,
Ohio National Guard, and leading it in nationwide concert
tours. Alumni of that group joined Mr. Palmer in the band
pictured above. This photo was taken on East Market Street.
A corner of the old Carnegie Library (now the Akron Art
Institute) is visible to the left. The hotel had many names
before its demolition.
Kepler's Hotel Turkey Foot Lake near Akron Ohio
Postcard of Richfield Hotel in Akron
Weld and Chittendon, master
builders from Connecticut, constructed this inn at
Brecksville Road and Route 303 in 1820-1823. Shown about
1900 are Dr. Ewing, the local doctor, and the inn's
proprietor, Fayette Viall. The smaller building is Sykes'
& The Marne
Two of Akron's leading
medium-priced hotels of the 1920's and 30's were on opposite
sides of South Main Street toward Exchange. Hotel Bond
housed the Commercial Savings and Trust on ground level,
with the hotel entrance to the right. Up the street was the
Marne, with the Allen Theatre on its street floor. It was
torn down in 1982.
Big Falls Hotel
Combination atlas map of Summit County, Ohio / compiled, drawn and
published from personal examinations and surveys by Tackabury,
Mead & Moffett, Philadelphia, Tackabury, Mead & Moffett, 1874
Archives. Cuyahoga Falls Library, Cuyahoga Falls, OH.
atlas map of Summit County, Ohio / compiled, drawn and
personal examinations and surveys by Tackabury, Mead &
Tackabury, Mead & Moffett, 1874
Third Empire House photo - Courtesy of
Sharon Weaver. Taken by George J. Snook who had a Gallery
opposite the P. O. Akron, Ohio
Clarendon (George Kyte) was located on the corner of South
Main and East Exchange.
Arlington Hotel (Nicholas Huber) was located on West Market
and North Canal streets.
Street House (Adamn G. Ranck) was located at 244 N. Main
Rostock's Hotel (Max Rostock) was located at 149, 151 North
Hotel (Lewis Humiston, postmaster). Clark was a two story
frame tavern on Exchange was run by Dr. Rufus Pierce.
House located on West Exchange was operated by first Lyman
Green then in 1839 Samuel Edgerly.
Pavilion House (Charles Cobb)
Exchange was a three story brick building located on Market
and Main streets. The hotel was erected by General Duthan
Northrop of Medina. It was the most popular hotel in this
part of the Reserve for more than a decade. All visiting
celebrities stopped there and it was the scene of many
social gatherings. To care for the horses of guests, a large
livery stable was built next door.
Ozier and his brother-in-law, George Lowery, both of
Mansfield, leased the old Kryder property a little south of
market from Mrs. Minor Howe, who then owned it, and erected
the 11-story Howe Hotel. It was opened in early 1915.
Information adapted from:
Lane, Samuel A. Fifty Years and Over, The History of Summit
Job Department, 1892. 528.
Grismer, Karl H.
Akron and Summit County. Akron, OH: Summit County Historical