Cleveland – March 2019 – Re purposing Historic Buildings as Hotels

Cleveland has notoriously been divided into two side, the East Side and West Side, separated by the Cuyahoga River. As a promotional campaign the local tourism board was sponsoring an event called ‘Tourist in Your Hometown – Crossing the River’. As part of this campaign they were offering a guided ‘hike’ around downtown checking out old buildings that have been restored and re purposed as hotels.

Our tour started out on the Mall outside of the old Cleveland Board of Education Building, now a Drury Hotel.





Designed by Cleveland architects Walker and Weeks, the building was completed in 1903 as part of the Group Plan. This plan designed a number of public buildings around green space in the middle of the city (The Mall).





The building’s exterior has a number of classic features.





The lobby features two murals by Cora Holden. Completed in 1931 the murals feature historical greats.





One of the first large scale redevelopment of a classic old building into a hotel was the venerable Arcade. In 2001 Hyatt Hotels restored the building to this fantastic state. While I have featured the Arcade in previous postings, you can never get enough of this elegant building.





A close up of the clocks and some of the railings.





Even the light poles have amazing detail.





The Guardian Bank Building was completed in 1896 as Cleveland’s tallest building – towering 221 feet above Euclid Avenue. Designed by Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge it was remodeled by Walker & Weeks in 1939, giving that firm a hand in the first 3 buildings we toured.





Today it has been restored into a Holiday Inn Express, as well as private apartments and the office of an interactive agency called Rosetta.

As with many of the old buildings, the ceilings are amazing. The building was funded by President Garfield’s sons, Harry and James.





One interesting feature of the tours were actors portraying historic Cleveland people. For the morning portion of the tour we met Garrett Morgan.

Garrett was an amazing person, born in Kentucky in the late 1800s he came to Cleveland in his teens where he started working on sewing machines. Having learned about machines, he went on to develop the modern traffic light as well as a breathing apparatus that was successfully used by Garrett and his brother to save more than 30 miners who were trapped under Lake Erie in a fire.





Our morning tour ended at the Metropolitan at 9, a hotel that is a building that was built in the 1970s. While normally that wouldn’t qualify it as historic, they bypassed that rule since it is attached to the Cleveland Trust Rotunda building.

We visited the basement vaults that have been restored into a bar, complete with a demonstration of their signature flaming drink.





The afternoon portion of the tour started out at the Schofield Building. Now restored into a Kimpton Hotel, the building was completed in 1901.

The building was restored in 2013 with 122 hotel rooms and 52 apartments.





The lobby is simple yet elegant.





Our tour took us up to an 11th floor room with a great view down Euclid Avenue.





As well as the Cleveland Trust Rotunda across East 9th Street.





Our last stop was in the Colonial and Euclid Arcades, where a Residence Inn is now located.





The Colonial Arcade was completed in 1898, running the distance between Euclid Avenue and Prospect Avenue. While not as grand as the Arcade, it is still an impressive space.





It was here we met John D Rockefeller, who at times would’ve stayed at the Colonial Hotel, the original hotel in the Colonial Arcade. Rockefeller was the richest person of all time – in 2018 dollars he was once worth over $400 billion dollars. Today’s richest people (Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates) are worth around $100 billion.





The Historic Hotel Tours were a nice way to spend the day, they gave us some tchotchkes, some munchies and even a free drink! The guide was very knowledgeable and informative, and the entire event was free.








Lancaster, Ohio – September 2018 – Frontier Spirit Festival

The city of Lancaster is one of the older towns in Ohio. The initial settlers came here in the late 1700’s, with the town itself being officially founded on November 10,1800.

Each year the Frontier Spirit Festival takes place. This festival has numerous actors who represent people who were instrumental in the settlement of the area in 1799.

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Pre dating Ohio becoming a state, the area was wilderness for the first settlers. The festival does an excellent job describing, and demonstrating what it took for these settlers.

The festival takes place in a large park at the south end of Lancaster. After an introduction, you are lead on a mile long hike with stops along the way for more detailed interpretations from the actors.

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The first large group of settlers came from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, thus the name. So many of those who came were of German descent that one of the first newspapers was a German language newspaper, Der Ohio Adler.

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All of the actors are volunteers. Their period clothing and other items, such as their guns add to the presentation.

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They spoke of the challenges in settling in the wilderness. There are more than 150 players in the group.

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Lancaster was founded by Ebenezer Zane, who was a famous merchant, trail blazer, pioneer and soldier. Zane was instrumental in treaties with the Native American’s (much debate about how equitable those treaties were, but that is another story).

Zane was given a contract by the United States government to open a road from Wheeling, West Virginia (then Virginia) to Maysville, Kentucky. In payment for this road he was given 3 square mile tracts of land at the crossing of the 3 major rivers – the Muskingum, the Hockhocking and the Scioto Rivers.

To make money he needed settlers to come buy some of this land, so he offer bounties to people to lead groups of settlers through the wilderness to each of the towns that developed. These leaders often were wanted by the law back east, so they were more than happy to move to the wilderness and earn some money.

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Anyone settling in the wilderness then had to fend for themselves, being hunters, building their cabins, becoming farmers, and generally having no dependency on anyone else.

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The promise of a better life in Ohio in 1799 was often not what they were lead to believe. This actress portrayed a frontier wife who wanted nothing more than to go back to Philadelphia and civilization.

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The husband and daughter wanted to make a life here. As with today, many marriages were strained by the stress of the move.

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This actress portrayed a young woman who was moving to the frontier to be married. She carried with her a dowry, a bag of salt.

The theme of this years presentation was about salt, and how important it was to the pioneers. They needed salt to cure their meat so it would last for long periods of time, as well as many other uses.

Salt was so rare, and in so much demand that in the Ohio frontier of 1799 it was worth more per ounce than gold.

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Along the way we met Johnny Appleseed, whose real name was John Chapman. All American school children know the story of Johnny Appleseed, who went from place to place scattering apple seeds for trees to grow,

Only that wasn’t quite how it was. John Chapman did indeed travel around to encourage the planting of fruit trees, but they were much more structured in orchards. He would plant the orchards then work with a local farmer to tend to the orchard, and share in the profits.

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There were numerous Native tribes in the area when it was being settled. Obviously not happy about losing their land with nothing in return, the local tribes tended to push back against the settlers.

Some tribes, such as the Wyandotte, had made deals with the US Government prior to 1799, thus allowing the development to continue faster.

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Our leaders into the wilderness.

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Once our tour down the trail was over, we visited the camp that was set up where they had a number of demonstrations.

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A band was playing.

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One tent had candle making – a very important item in pioneer life.

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Another musician with a zither.

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The Frontier Festival in Lancaster was far better than expected, with the actors and musicians all passionate about their presentation. It made for an entertaining and educational afternoon.

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