Friday, April 4, 2014

Tourist Rooms

Tourist Homes used signs like this to announce that they welcomed tourists
Let's say you were passing through Lorain in the early 1930s and didn't want to stay at (or couldn't afford) a room at the Colonial Hotel or the Lorain Hotel. Or, perhaps you were working in town for a few weeks before moving on. Where you could catch 40 winks?

One option in those days was to stay in a tourist home and rent a room for the night. Tourist homes were sort of like a hotel, usually just a large, old house with rooms for tourists to rent for the night or longer. They were very similar to boarding houses in that they were mom-and-pop operations with residents coming and going.
Another vintage sign advertising tourist rooms
In Lorain, there was only one address in the city directory in the early 1930s that was listed as a place that made tourist rooms available: 1219 West Erie. It had the "Tourist Rooms" category all to itself from 1931 until 1933.

1933 City Directory Listing
I'm sure there were many other tourist rooms available in town, but 1219 West Erie – operated by Smith H. Stone – was the only one in the book. (I had to cross-reference his name several times to make sure that 'Smith' was his first name!) It had a great location being near the intersection of West Erie and Oberlin Avenue.

Anyway, I was pretty interested in driving over and seeing this house that hosted weary travelers in the early 1930s. Unfortunately, it was located right next door to K-Kream Korner – and was demolished in the last year or so, as that popular ice cream establishment has needed more space on that corner.

Fortunately, the Lorain County Auditor website had a few photos of it (below) before it was torn down. It was indeed a big rambling house, and looks like it had a lot of character in its day. I can imagine guests relaxing on the front porch and enjoying the cooling breezes from Lake Erie.

Anyway, time marches on – and the tourist home at 1219 West Erie is just another faded memory of Lorain, from the days when U. S. 6 stretched from coast to coast.

1219 West Erie is gone, but the garage remains (photographed last weekend)


Susan Scott said...

Thanks for a great read, Dan! It’s nice to know that there are cheaper alternatives to hotels through those tourist homes. I’m just disappointed about the destruction of the house. Hmm. Do you know other tourist houses like that? Hope you can take some photos of them and post it on your blog. :)

Susan @

Rick Kurish said...

Another home on West Erie Ave. had a sign advertising "Tourist Rooms". I used to drive by it each day on my way to work in the late 1960s, and even then I considered it a vestige from an earlier time. The sign was located in the yard of a large home on the corner of west Erie Ave. and South Lakeview Blvd., across from the entrance to Lake View Park. I drove by the area this afternoon, and noted the address as 1524 S. Lakeview Blvd. I believe the sign was there into the 1970s, although I don't know if they still offered tourist rooms.

The house was always a nice home, but the exterior has been renovated in the last few years, and it is quite an impressive home. The site of the home across from the entrance to the park would also have been a plus. As the realtor's say -- location, location, location!

Dan Brady said...

I checked out 1524 S. Lakeview on the Auditor site; it is a beautiful home and easy to imagine as a tourist home.

I'd sure like to see that Tourist Rooms sign! Wonder if it ended up in a local antique shop?