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Battle Creek House Hotel, c. 1857

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dc.contributor.other 2012-01-20_jfr en_US
dc.identifier.other h35_3535 en_US
dc.identifier.uri http://dspace.willardlibrary.org/xmlui/handle/123456789/20697
dc.description Battle Creek House, corner Main and Jefferson Streets, c. 1857. Battle Creek House, stagecoach stop and hub of social life, 1836-1866. From the "Anniversary of a Notable Pioneer Fire...," Battle Creek Daily Moon, May 4, 1907, p. 1. : OLD BATTLE CREEK HOTEL WAS BURNED 41 YEARS AGO SUNDAY EVENING. HAD BECOME A VILLAGE EYESORE AND THE FIRE WAS INCENDIARY. Two Score Years Have Enabled the Compilation of Much Unwritten History. Memories of Battle Creek's most interesting pioneer fire will be recalled tomorrow night on the 41st anniversary of the burning of the old Battle Creek hotel. Battle Creek's most famous hostelry was the old Battle Creek house. It was for years the center of the social life of the village and city. Here the farmers congregated when they came to town to talk about the weather and crops and later years the progress of the war. The young men gathered in arm chairs out on the front veranda Summer evenings to gossip. In this there ? were dances, oyster suppers, magic lantern shows and other cheap entertainments characteristic of pioneer days. After these shows, which began early and were over at 8 o'clock, the young people had a dance. One of the pioneers, William Audrus, then a young man, states that frequently at night the boys would get out the hotel bus and go around town and gather up the girls and have an impromptu dance. None of the pioneers can tell when the hotel was built but it is supposed to be about 1835 or 1836. It was erected by Judge Henry, who was the host of the famous Henry’s log tavern, previous to this time located at "the Gulf" near the site of the old Phelps’ homestead. The old house served well its purpose, being the headquarters of all the stages leaving this city for Hastings, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and Coldwater, and entertained right royally the travelers of those days. Finally, after the village had grown and become a city it looked dilapidated and was not in keeping with other business structures being erected. People wanted to see a new hotel on its site. The hotel business became poor, and in the year 1866 the last landlord moved out of the building and it was ?. The people were so rejoiced that on the night of its vacation several hundred invaded the old tavern and held a Jubilee, marching about the rooms, singing, blowing horns and dancing war dances. So general was the feeling against the old structure as an eye-sore to the city that some person, who will never be known, has died with the secret in his breast, set fire to the old building and because it was constructed of wood it burned like a tinder box. The Moon is able to present to its readers the first newspaper picture of the tavern ever printed. It was taken from an old map owned by Mark McCamly. It is a perfect picture of the hotel,which was located at the corner of West Main and North Jefferson Avenue, on the site of the present Thomas block. Verandas ran around on each street on the first and second floors. In the corner on Main street was the office, and on the Main Street side the sitting room. On the Jefferson street side was the dining room and on the second floor above was the dance hall. Between the hotel and Neale' s block, was the one-story wooden building occupied by William H. Green as a meat market the hotel grounds on Main Street extended up to the present Wakelee block, upon the site of which at that time was a wooden building occupied as a grocery by Theodore Wakelee. The hotel extended down to about the center of the present Centennial block. From that point westward to the Wakelee store was the hotel yard, onm the site of which is the present Green block. Im this yard took paoce the only tragedy that happened about the old hotel. Here “Bogo” Pew, son of Landlord Pew, committee suicide. The fire was on Saturday night, May 5. In those days the volunteer fire department consisted of the steamer, Union No. 1, and Tempest hand engine No. 2, each with a hose cart. There were no horses on the steamer, it being hauled by men with drag ropes. People generally were so glad to see the old building burn that no attempt was made to save it, the firemen working for the protection of adjoining property. Theodore Wakelee’s store was saved but William H. Green’s meat market was burned. On the opposite corner, where the Old National bank is located, was a two-story wooden building occupied as a grocery by the late S. W. McCrea. Between it and Amberg’s block was a wooden building occupied by the late J. Martin Caldwell and Fred Galloway as a shoe store. In the rear of the McCrea store on north Jefferson avenue, adjoining the old Buck & Hoyt block was a wooden building occupied as a grocery by Lucius Evret. The entire side of the McCrea building was used as a billboard and was filled with mammoth posters advertising the coming of Van Amburg’s menagerie. The intense heat melted this paper and almost in an instant all of those wooden structures were aflame. Those burned with their contents. The burning hotel and the other buildings made a fire that lighted up the entire heavens and was seen for miles around Battle Creek, many farmers hitching up their horses and coming to town. During the fire several young men who had become intoxicated attempted to cut the hose of No. 1 company. A bloody fiht followed in which Ed. Vandemark, the foreman, used a spanner with such effect that he cleaned out the whole crowd. One feature of the hotel will never be forgotten by many of the “old boys,” and that was the bar. They smile knowingly now when they speak of it, and say that in those days whisky was only three cents a glass, and it was the “real thing.” Once before the old hotel had a very narrow escape from destruction, at 8 o’clock on Saturday night, June 6, 1861. This was before the war, when the fire department was composed of those young men who after wards enlisted in the volunteers. This time the firemen made a vigorous effort to save the building, and succeeded, but it was considerably damaged. George C. Knight, on of the firement was seriously injured by fal from a ladder. Afterwards Knight caption of Co. C. Second Infantry, was killed at Petersburg. Among the old-time landlords as remembered by our pioneers were Judge ? Vanderberg, Rueben Pew, a ? Wolfe, L. H. Stewart, Campbell Charles & Wood, James Watts Clark (Erastus) & Wells, Emmett A. Beach, John Sweeney and afters his son-in-law, William Page, There were probably others, but they can not be called to mind. The above are not given in the proper order. Mark McCamly calls to mind that when a boy and while Vanderberg was landlord, there was displayed at the hotel a 100-pound sturgeon, caught in the Kalamazoo river near the present McCamly street bridge. In those days, big sturgeon were frequently caught in the river and creek, but after the building of the Allegan dam no more sturgeon were ever seen. It was expected that a new hotel would be erected upon the site of the old tavern, as it was considered the natural site for an hostelry, but the ground was later bought by Willard Reily, who built the present block upon the site which is now owned by Charles R Thomas. As a coincidence, Mr. Thomas witnessed his first show at this old hotel. When a little fellow standing at the hotel door with a dozen other lads, longing to “get in” to a magic lantern show advertised for that evening, Dr. Cox came along, and generous as he always was with the boys, paid the admission for the crowd. Mr. Thomas says that this was the first show that he ever saw, and although he has been to hundreds since, this was the best one of all. en_US
dc.language.iso En en_US
dc.subject Hotels and Taverns en_US
dc.subject Fires en_US
dc.title Battle Creek House Hotel, c. 1857 en_US
dc.type Image en_US

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