Friday, June 9, 2017

Follow-up Friday: Commonwealth Hotel

1910 Postcard of “Penfield Avenue looking North, Lorain, Ohio"
Back in April, I gave the above postcard the "Then & Now" treatment on this post. I pointed out that the sign on the pole seemed to be an ad for the Commonwealth Hotel, which was located at the corner of W. 20th Street and Livingston.

Wondering why the hotel was no longer there, I managed to find out that it had been destroyed in a fire on January 19, 1916.

The Lorain Daily News coverage of the disaster pointed out that the three story hotel had been built 32 years earlier. The building was no longer serving as a hotel; only a few days before the fire, it had been purchased by the Burstein Brothers, manufacturers of cigars.

The firm had just moved its machinery and materials into the building, only to see it all go up in smoke. Fortunately, according to the Daily News article, “the entire loss was covered by insurance.”

The article provides a nice history of the hotel.

I shared the Daily News article with a few of my regular contributors, including Rick Kurish, who as usual decided to research it further.

“I just read the article on the Commonwealth Hotel fire you sent the other day,” wrote Rick. "The article mentions that the hotel, which had apparently been vacant for several years had recently been purchased by the Burstein Brothers cigar company. I did a little research on the company, which was headquartered in Cleveland, and found that after the fire destroyed the old hotel, they apparently moved their Lorain operation to 2129 Broadway in Lorain.

"It was apparently a small operation, because in 1918 they had 13 employees – all women. I also ran across a tin from the company that was for sale on the internet. It has really great graphics and held 50 "All Dutch" panetela cigars.”

Here’s the tin (below).
“Old Dutch” brand cigars manufactured by Burstein Brothers, Lorain, Ohio
Blog contributor Dennis Thompson also did a little research, coming up with a Sanborn fire map showing the Commonwealth Hotel. He tried to find a photo of it as well, as it was "tallest building south of downtown."
Kent Street later became 20th Street
"Sounds like quite a building; too bad the article didn't have a photo,” he mused. 
Dennis did make an tongue-in-cheek observation about the fire that consumed the cigar equipment and materials.
"I bet that was a interesting smell to the smoke! he noted.

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