Monday, June 10, 2013

Holiday Inn Motel – Part 1

Continuing on my trip along the old Route 6 & 2 in search of long-gone businesses...

The Holiday Inn Motel (featured prominently in the 1950s Lorain promotional film) was just west of Baumhart Road on the south side of the street. Despite its name, it was a mom and pop motel with nothing to do with the well-known national chain.

What's the story behind the motel?

Fortunately, Brian Finley – a descendant of the man who started the motel – was kind enough to share some of his knowledge in a posted comment on this blog.

"My step-father's father was the guy behind the Holiday Inn," he wrote. "His name was Frank Koniewskowsky,which he shortened to "Konik" when he emigrated from Poland in the early part of the 20th century. He lived on the west side of Cleveland, where he owned a block of buildings. An entrepreneur, Frank bought the property at Liberty Avenue/Lake Road in the early 1950's, because he knew that it was smack-dab on the route to the vacation destinations to the west: Cedar Point, Port Clinton, Kelly's Island, Put-in-Bay, etc. This was before the Interstate freeway would bypass the area."

"Frank installed his sons Richard (my step-father) and Robert as owners/operators of the motel and adjacent restaurant. He named it after the epic Bing Crosby/Danny Kaye movie."
It hasn't been easy for me to research the motel in its early days.
Since it was located between Lorain and Vermilion on what used to be referred to as Routes 6 & 2, it was in a no-man's land: outside of both Lorain's and Vermilion's city limits and thus not listed in the earliest city directories.
According to the Lorain County Auditors website, the motel was constructed in 1948. It first showed up in the Lorain phone book (in the Vermilion section) in the December 1950 edition.
The early ads gave its address as Stop 120, hearkening back to its location on the old Lake Shore Electric interurban route.

1952 Lorain Phone Book listing
Although the motel was not listed in the 1950s Lorain city directories, I did find it in the library's copy of the 1954 Lorain County Farm & Rural Directory. Here's its listing along with a partial of some of the others along that stretch of Route 6 (below)

Apparently back then there were no numerical addresses assigned to the properties. So, whoever compiled the rural directory just counted east from Vermilion and numbered the properties as they appeared, noting if they were on the north or south side of the street.

It's interesting seeing the motel listed in there with some of the historic farms along that stretch, including those of the Claus and Baumhart families (both farms were sold when the Ford plant was built in the 1950s).

Next: Boom times for the motel


Drew Penfield said...

That rural directory is neat, it's so informal.

Regarding the Stop 120 address: When the Lake Shore Coach bus company took over for the electric railway in 1938 they kept the same stops and just moved them from the railway tracks to the road. It's possible that the parking lot of the motel was stop 120 for the buses.

Mike and sometimes Rachel said...

Dan Brady, this is AMAZING to me! I am Mike Finley, onetime of Amherst and Vermilion, now living in St. Paul. My mother was Mary Konik, and Dick Konik was my stepdad. My brother Brian is quoted in this loving compilation. My family is having a big reunion in August and i am coming to Rocky River for it, and i will have copies of your history in hand. THANK YOU!

Daniel Konik said...

That was so much fun to read. I grew up there, as my Dad was Bob Konik. The cottages had been converted into apartments by then, and we worked very hard to maintain them. Alas, as of 2012 the property is abandoned and the buildings are in great disrepair.