By: Rich Tarrant
More than one person has looked at the photograph of the building accompanying this week’s column and said, “Wow! Where is that place?” By Vermilion standards it’s really a very impressive structure. And by the same standards (i.e. building codes) I’m not real certain that anyone would want to undertake building something like it today. But back in the latter years of the 19th century the people responsible for Linwood Park saw a need for a great hotel along the lakeshore and Hotel Linwood was built.
When this hotel was built Vermilion did have a comparable 3-story hotel on the southeast corner of Liberty and Division streets called the Lake House (VPJ 07/11/2013). But that was way across the swamp and river to the west, thus making access and egress to Linwood, especially during inclement weather, less than ideal. In short, Hotel Linwood was an ideal place in an ideal place – a big hotel beneath the cool shade of a zillion trees. And just outside each visitors door was a wide and wonderful beach and beyond which lay the refreshing waters of beautiful Lake Erie.
Now, that being said let us fast-forward to the year 1927. In a brochure printed by the presses of The Vermilion News for the forty-fifth season of Linwood Park it reads: “We are pleased to announce to our friends and patrons, many new improvements both in Hotel and Park. / Running water in each bedroom, many of the rooms redecorated and refurnished, therefore adding much to the comfort and pleasure of the guests. / The ideal place for the whole family, American Plan. Rates reasonable. / Good food well served has been and will continue to be our motto. Plenty fresh pasteurized milk and pure drinking water. / Open June 18th to September 10th. Make reservations early. In addition to Hotel Service, a Lunch Room will serve good wholesome food at popular prices.”
The brochure is really an historic eye-opener. And that’s not only with what is said, but what it is not. In 2017, and perhaps even in 1937 or 1947 travelers would have taken it for granted that when one rents a room in a hotel or motel that they will have “running water” as well as other personal facilities – not to mention pasteurized milk for children and pure drinking water. So it seems amazing – even to me after seven decades of life – that it was only 90 years ago that such things were considered to be the epitome of hotel accouterments for visitors not only at Linwood, but everywhere.
While I am reluctant to mention the following, it may help some readers understand what hotel life might have been like before running water. When I was an unruly youngster with unruly friends we paid an uninvited visit to the upper floors of what was then Vermilion’s long abandoned Maud-Elton Hotel when it still had 3-floors. All the rooms had brass numbers on the doors, old metal beds with straw mattresses, porcelain pitchers and bowls on dusty dressers and, last but not least, chamber pots. I don’t know about anyone else, but I know what hotel job I would not have taken for any amount of compensation.
But setting that entire matter aside, the Linwood Hotel was really and truly a popular and respected inn for park visitors. During its eighty plus years of service perhaps thousands of families enjoyed not only their stay at the hotel, but their time at the park and their time in little ol’ Vermilion, Ohio.
The hotel also served as a summertime employer of more than a few young Vermilion youngsters – especially in the kitchen and dining room. Many Vermilionites will remember Hannah Morey who managed the kitchen and dining room at the hotel. That was her summer job. During the winter months she ran Vermilion’s school cafeteria. And one would be hard pressed to find a person who attended school in town and ate lunch in her cafeteria who doesn’t remember her lunches. That’s how good they were. But more importantly, her dinners at the hotel are said to have been even better.
And then things – as they always do – end. By 1965 most had lost interest in the hotel. It was apparently in need of extensive repairs; no one came forward to take over its operation; so in November the beautiful Hotel Linwood was taken down.
Vermilion resident Rich Tarrant has agreed to share many of the photos and stories he has acquired from the former Vermilion News and other local sources with the readers of the Photojournal. Rich is the youngest son and a grandson of the late proprietors of The Vermilion News (1897-1964). Readers may email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org