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A Look Back: Hotels and Boarding Houses

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Looking back to when our forefathers lived and I am amazed at the hotels and boarding houses you will find. Here in the village of Springville, the first hotel was a small double log house on Franklin Street and was operated by David Stickney in 1810. There is a story that a tradition here called “taking a horn” was originated there.
This place supplied with liquor and a bar, but not any glasses to meet the needs of the thirsty public, had a drinking vessel created out of the horn of an ox, hence the taking a horn of whiskey. This log cabin/hotel was across from a green area where folks would gather and resin up their bows and fiddle in the evenings, thus the name of Fiddler’s Green.
Several hotels were established over the years all in the town. John Albro had a hotel on the east side of Buffalo street in 1811, Amaziah Ashman had a log house on Townsend Hill around 1812, David Stannard built a framed building on Franklin Street in 1818, Jonathan Townsend had a framed building in 1819 and a brick hotel in 1822 on Townsend Hill road. This also served as one of the stagecoach stops.
Phelps Hatch built the American Hotel, located on the corner of Main and Buffalo streets in 1843, and he later leased it to James Crandall. Later on, Smith and Beebe purchased the hotel, and then the property was rented and run by Gaston D Smith and passed on to Theodore Smith, who in 1860 sold it to E.S. Pierce, who in 1863 sold it to Clinton Hammond, and later sold it back to E.S. Pierce.
By 1874, A.E. Torrey bought the property and for a time he remained the proprietor, and then he associated with his brother A.R. Torrey who after a time bought it from his brother and ran it until the spring of 1880, where he sold it to Peter Nenno. Wow, sure seems like a lot of people were running hotels, and the American Hotel for sure, but through it all, there were rooms to let out events that happened within the hotel for the town.
By 1886, there are seven hotels in town, along with 13 general stores, four saloons, three livery stables, four billiard saloons, two cigar manufacturers, seven blacksmith shops, three wagon shops, four millinery shops, three tailoring shops, two coal yards and a marble shop.
In 1907, there were still seven hotels and one listed was the Leland House, 128 Main St., run by B.F. Ferry. The Leland house at one time was a Temperance hotel. The Leland house was built in 1878 on the site where the Springville House once stood. It had 35 rooms and a dining room.
The rates in 1907 were $2 a day the American Hotel, Main Street, now being run by Leo Fox; the Clair Hotel run by L.P. Clair; Farmers Hotel, Main Street, run by J.H. Utrich; International Hotel, 178 Main Street, run by W.J. Cash; the Pan American Hotel, 228 Main Street, run by Elmer Chase and the Western House, 233 Main Street, near the tracks, run by Joseph Seider.
So anyone coming to town for any event, or even stopping though, always had a large choice to pick from. Anyone coming in on a train could get a carriage that would take them to the hotel of their choosing, and if they came by horseback, there were lots of places to take their horses to be housed and taken care of.
I guess then as now, we like to travel and go see other places, sometimes as a family and sometimes on a business trip. I can almost hear the stagecoach as it approaches the hotel on Townsend Road, or here in town, reins and wood creaking, ladies and gentlemen stepping down and dusting off their clothes as they enter into the log cabin or framed building called a hotel, and being checked in, or the train as it slowed down and stopped by the Western House with folks getting off and walking to the hotel for something to eat and checking in a room for the night. Has traveling changed that much over the years?
We would love to have you travel to the Lucy Bensley Center and see what else you can find in our vast collections of old newspapers, handwritten journals, photograph albums and so much more.
We never know what we will find as we research and look for information. You can bring your information and share with us your stories as well, we would love to hear them. Photographs too!
We are open on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the second and fourth Sundays from 2 to 4 p.m. You can call us at 592-0094 or send us an email at lucybensleycenter@gmail.com.
As you are out traveling around town, be sure to stop by all of our buildings in the Historical Society, located at 17 Franklin St., the Pop Warner Museum with all new displays, the Carriage House, The Concord Mercantile, the Heritage building and of course the Lucy Bensley, located at 23 North Buffalo St.
There is live music on Tuesday and Thursday at the Mercantile/Heritage building at 7 p.m. Is there a story you would like me to do here? Please let me know.

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