Monday, February 26, 2018

Buckeye Hotel in South Amherst – Part 1

If you mention the word “Buckeye” to anyone nowadays, they probably think of the Ohio State University football or basketball teams. But if you grew up in South Amherst, the word might conjure up memories of a landmark hotel owned by the Cleveland Quarries Company.

I first heard about the hotel in an email from longtime blog contributor Rick Kurish. He wrote, "I ran across an interesting picture postcard today on Ebay that I had never seen before. It is a postcard of the Buckeye Hotel in South Amherst circa 1910.”

That’s the vintage postcard at right.

"The little that I currently know is that the Buckeye Hotel was owned and operated by the South Amherst Sandstone Quarries,” continued Rick. "I’m not sure of the years of operation, but I have run across references to the building from about 1900 until the 1920s. I believe that the hotel served travelers, visitors to the quarries, as well as quarry employees.”

Rick did some research on the hotel and was able to find out a lot about it.

"The first thing that I wanted to do was identify its location,” he noted, "which I have been able to do with certainty.
“I believe that the hotel dates to circa 1900, which is about the time that a Chicago banker named John R. Walsh purchased some sandstone operations in South Amherst and incorporated the Ohio Quarries Company. At that time (1903) he greatly expanded both the quarries and the stone cutting operation. 
"One of the quarries that was part of the Ohio Quarries Company was the “Buckeye” quarry reputed to be the deepest quarry in the world at the time. This quarry was probably the genesis for the names Buckeye Street and Buckeye Hotel, which were associated with the Ohio Quarries. 
"An early mention of the Buckeye Hotel appears in the Elyria Chronicle of November 15, 1907. The article would indicate that the hotel served more as a boarding house for quarry employees, and closed during the winter when the quarries were inactive.”
So where was the hotel located?
Rick observed, "That the Buckeye Hotel was located on the southwest corner of Buckeye street and South Amherst Road, also known as Lake Street, can be confirmed to my satisfaction by several sources. 
"First, the postcard shows the Hotel facing South Amherst Road with a large home behind it. That home still exists on Buckeye Street. In fact the south side of buckeye street is lined with about ten homes of identical construction, which indicates to me that they were built by the quarry company.”

Here’s a vintage photograph (courtesy of Drew Penfield) showing that row of similar homes on Buckeye Street that Rick is talking about.

Here's the Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of Buckeye Street (courtesy of Dennis Lamont) showing those same houses, as well as the Buckeye Hotel.

And here’s a photo of the homes taken looking west down Buckeye Street on this past Sunday.

The first one on the left in the photo from Sunday is the house visible on the vintage postcard of the hotel.
Rick confirmed his hunch by checking census records. As he noted,"The 1920 census enumeration lists the occupants of the homes on Buckeye Street and the next enumeration, listed as being on South Amherst Road, is the Buckeye Hotel. 
"A Howard Hunt was listed as the proprietor of a boarding house and lived there with his family and thirteen men identified as boarders who worked at the quarry. An article from the Amherst newspaper of April 17, 1919 indicates that Mr. Hunt had been given a lease to run the hotel/boarding house, and that the hotel was undergoing extensive renovations and would reopen shortly. That would seem to indicate that the hotel had been closed for a period of time. 
"Another snippet from the Amherst newspaper of April 6, 1922, under "South Amherst News," indicates that the Ohio Quarries had donated property just south of the Buckeye Hotel as athletic grounds for South Amherst High School. This was the property that South Amherst High School used for football and track before they were consolidated with the Firelands School System. This athletic field is still there, just south of Buckeye Street.”
Tomorrow: the rest of the story

5 comments:

Mark said...

Can't wait to hear the "rest of the story!" My dad lived there in the 1950's while working for the Quarry's before he started his 30 year career at Lorain Ford plant.

Eric Long said...

The house on corner is original hotel building minus second floor(and of course some remodeling)

Dan Brady said...

Hi Eric!
Wow, thanks for posting that! Tuesday's post deals with the 1961 fire that destroyed the roof and second floor, but I had no idea that what was left was converted into a house. I guess that explains why in the historic aerials, the same U-shaped bldg is there both before and after the fire years! Thanks!

Eric Long said...

Dan,

I've been in that house a few times. It was owned by Jerry and Phyllis Hughett. Phyllis passed away last year but Jerry still owns it. They had always told me stories about it being the old Buckeye Hotel. It is broken up to a three unit home. If you have further question about the house, One of their sons, Paul owns P J Sanitation. As he grew up in that house I'm sure he knows the stories and could shed more light on this topic.

Eric Long

Dan Brady said...

Thanks, Eric!