Jim told me in an email that his family used to drive by the Colonial when they went to visit his grandmother, who lived in the high-rise on Seventh Street. "I remember when they tore down the Colonial. I picked up a couple of bricks from it."
Unfortunately, Jim didn't grab what surely must have been the most tempting artifact. "I was not brave enough to try and snag the HOTEL sign that was lying in the rubble!" he humorously noted.
Anyway, special thanks to Jim for the article, which appears below.
Fire Mars Last Night of Colonial Hotel
By M. R. KROPKO
Journal Staff Writer
THE COLONIAL HOTEL was alive with activity again in its last night standing in Lorain. But it wasn't a happy occasion.
A fire gutted portions of three floors of the building as firemen climbed stairways and scoured rooms to battle a fire of suspicious origin.
The three-story brick structure, at 303 Fourth Street in Lorain's urban renewal project area, has been vacant for nearly six months, awaiting the arrival of a demolition crew. It has stood there since the early part of this century, and at one time was regarded as one of the top hotels in the city.
The demolition is scheduled to begin today.
The fire has been officially referred to the department's fire prevention bureau for investigation, but the demolition plans have not been delayed.
Firemen at the nearby number one station were alerted to the fire shortly after 7:30 p.m. by a pedestrian on Fourth Street, firefighter John Petrillo said last night.
"THERE WAS someone pounding on the garage door. It was a middle-aged woman, and she said the hotel down the street was on fire. My first impression was that it must be the Antlers, but when I looked down the street at the Colonial, it was all red," Petrillo said.
Assistant Chief Andrew Torok said firefighters found one of the first floor rooms on the west side of the building completely involved in flames.
The front door was locked, and some firemen forced it open as others busted out windows on the Reid Avenue side of the building.
Torok said the only window broken out before firemen arrived was the window of the room that was ablaze.
DENSE SMOKE filled the area as the firefighters soaked the fire. Torok said the blaze quickly spread from the first floor room up pipes and walls in to second and third floor rooms directly above.
The fire did not present problems the firefighters might have faced once at the Colonial. All rooms were vacant and no utilities service the building.
"The building was not in bad shape, considering it's part of urban renewal. All the stairs were still there, and there were no holes in the floors, except for the ones we made," fire Lt. Clarence Jenkins said.
The Elmar Demolition Company of Elyria in January was awarded a $35,990 contract to demolish the Colonial Hotel and Moose Hall buildings. A message from Safety Director Richard Koba's office instructed the firemen to be aware of street closings today near the intersection of Fourth and Reid because of the demolotion.
No estimate of damage was made because of the demolition plans. No injuries were reported.
****It's funny to look back and realize that forty years ago, urban renewal seemed like a good idea. All it seemed to accomplish in Downtown Lorain is produce a few unappealing buildings and lots of vacant lots.
I look at the sad Meridian Shopping Plaza – with the tiny, hole-in-the-wall Post Office, the internet café, dollar store and budget grocery store – and wish that the Colonial Hotel had never been torn down.