Monday, June 20, 2016

Oberlin Inn Comes Down Part 1

April 29, 1949 ad from the Chronicle-Telegram
A few weeks ago, my spy out in Oberlin (also known as the webmaster of the Oberlin in the Past Facebook page) emailed me to let me know that the last portion of the Oberlin Inn that was still standing was finally in the process of being torn down. That’s because its modern replacement, The Hotel at Oberlin was now open.

That particular corner in the college town had played host to some sort of lodging and dining since Oberlin College was founded in the 1830s.

The Oberlin Inn that was there the longest was built in the late 1860s, with businesses on the first floor and the hotel on the second and third floors. In its early days it was known as the Park Hotel.

1915 Ad
(Courtesy Ebay)

A 1937 view
An early 1950s view
In April 1954 it was announced that this version of the Oberlin Inn was going to be replaced. The article below ran in the April 7, 1954 Lorain Journal.

Old Inn to Be Replaced
By New, Modern Building

OBERLIN – The quaint, 87-year-old Oberlin Inn, one of Ohio’s best-known country inns, will be replaced by a unique, modern structure by Jan. 15, 1955, Dr. William E. Stevenson, president of Oberlin College, announced today.

Construction will begin “immediately,” Stevenson added, but the architect’s plans will permit use of the old inn until the new one is ready for occupancy.

Estimated cost is $600,000, college officials said.

The new inn and eight shops will be constructed on land directly behind the present inn and rows of business buildings on North Main and East College Streets.

Martin Block, on the eastern end of the row on East College and the McClelland Block on the northern end of the row on North Main Street will be torn down beginning June 15.

The new, air-conditioned inn will contain 48 double bedrooms, and extensive dining and meeting rooms. The present structure has only 24 rooms, six with baths, in addition to its famous dinning room, meeting rooms and a faculty lounge.

Two of the new shops will be in the inn itself and six more will be in a separate building just east of the building.

All the stores will face on East College Street, but they will also be accessible from a large parking lot on Willard Court serving both the inn and the stores as well as Oberlin College’s new, $1,200,000 Sophronia Brooks Hall Auditorium, north of the inn.

In addition, diagonal, off street parking for 25 cars will be provided on the East College Street side.

General Contractor
General Contractor for the inn and stores will be the Knowlton Construction Company of Bellefontaine. T. O. Murphy Company of Oberlin has been awarded the contract for heating, plumbing and ventilating. Eldridge Snyder of New York City is the architect.

The new inn will be constructed by Oberlin College as an investment, President Stevenson said, and will be operated on a sound business basis to safeguard regular college budgets.

The project is not part of Oberlin’s recently announced 10-year development program. Dr. Stevenson added that Oberlin College has long recognized the need for good hotel facilities for parents, visitors and all friends of the College, as well as the community generally.

He said the new inn and stores will be landscaped attractively and when the project is completed it will add a new touch of beauty to both the community and the college campus.

Outstanding Feature
The outstanding feature of the new inn will be the skillful combination of carefully designed motel-type accommodations for motorists with compete hotel and dining facilities.

Automobile travelers may park their cars immediately outside bedrooms on the first floor of the building and have access to the lobby, dining rooms, meeting rooms, and shops either via covered outside walks along the side of the building or through an interior corridor.

It is expected that ground will be broken soon.


By December 1954, much progress had been made. According to an article that appeared in the Lorain Journal on December 8, 1954, it was announced that the new Oberlin Inn would be open in March or April 1955. (The new Inn would eventually open in June 1955.)

The article also stated, “Buildings on either side of the old landmark were razed this summer to make room for the new structure. The 88 year old inn, which in its early history was known as the Park Hotel, will be crumbled with the blows of the razors’ axe as soon as the new building is completed.

You can see both the old hotel and the new one in the 1955 aerial photo, taken before the older structure was razed.
(Courtesy Cleveland Memory website)
The new Oberlin Inn
(Courtesy Cleveland Memory website)

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