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Home Travel The long road from Effinger home to Hotel Lancaster

The long road from Effinger home to Hotel Lancaster

by Staff

At 84 years of age, 123 N. Broad St. continues to undergo changes. The time seems right to look back and remind readers of the property’s history, what has been lost and what remains.

Rudolph Pitcher built a tavern about 1800 where 123 N. Broad St. stands today. Peter Reber purchased the tavern, erected “a more commodious building,” and with his son John Reber operated the tavern. After his father’s death, John conducted the tavern until it was purchased in the 1820s by  Samuel Effinger. Effinger hired John Schleich to build a house for his family on the property. It is believed to have been built between 1823-1826. According to the Historic American Buildings Survey, Schleich built “a house of unusual beauty.” The Director of the Cleveland Museum of Art described the front door as “one of the finest and rarest portals in Ohio.” L. T. Frary’s book, “Early Homes of America,” was published 1936 and featured the Effinger house.

Samuel Effinger died in 1834, but Effinger family members owned the residence until it was purchased in 1928 by Mr. I. J. Collins, president of the Hocking Glass Co. “Effinger Property Sold for Business Block,” was the title of an article (Daily Eagle 8 Sept.1928) which suggested “It may be that Mr. Collins will erect on this site a building housing a hotel, theatre and business rooms. He and Thomas Fulton are engaged in such a building project in Piqua, O.”

“With the passing of the Effinger home, Lancaster will lose one of its prized architectural heritages that are now so few in number. In the deed for the sale, it is specified that the doorway on the south side of the building, the window above it, which duplicates the design of the doorway, the fine old circular stairway in the front hall, and the mantles are to go to the Effinger heirs…when the building is razed. It is hoped that these will not be lost to Lancaster.”

A month later an article in the Daily Eagle (18 Oct.1928) announced where businesses that were in the Effinger Block and surrounding properties would be moving because “It is understood that the construction of a new building on the property which faces Broad St. and Bank Alley will be started early next spring.”

Plans did not move that quickly, however. An article (Daily Eagle 16 May 1929) announced “The Murphy-Stevenson Co., Chevrolet dealers, have secured the large vacant lot in the rear of the late Michael Effinger home…and will use it as a used car sales lot…While the lease secured by the Chevrolet dealers is indefinite, the inference is drawn that the construction of the new block by Mr. I. J. Collins on this site, will not begin for some time.”

Preparations for razing the Effinger home were soon underway (Daily Eagle 10 July 1929): I. J. Collins…is having his workmen construct and erect a protection enclosure over the Broad St. sidewalk in front of the building. Work of razing the entire structure will begin at once as Mr. Collins plans to use some of the brick and material from the old Effinger home on his farm west of the Camp Ground.”

H. P. Hazelton celebrated the 100+ year old building (Daily Eagle 24 July 1929) “As the structure is being torn down it is quite a fitting time to review the history which lurks within the hallways and rooms of the century old edifice.  The world moves on, and history turns countless revolutions; progress as it is called, intervenes and causes the age-old buildings to be destroyed—to be replaced by new buildings and modern places of business that are demanded by the people of the 20th century…The builders of the residence left us a precious heritage—an edifice to be respected, but progress, as it is termed, must intervene and history must travel on, and so it is with the Effinger Place, now in ruins. To replace it, we shall hope to see something of rare attraction—for the new building will be significant of the twentieth century, of our taste and intelligence, to the generation that follows us.”

“Beauties of old home here to go into gallery rooms,” was announced in the Daily Eagle (28 Aug. 1929). The new Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts was to receive the Effinger home’s doorway, window, part of the stairway, and some interior doorways and mantel-pieces. George H. Bulford, Columbus architect, was planning the transfer of these “Lancaster treasures” to Columbus.

It would be more than 10 years before the doors of I. J. Collins’ new “business block” would open on June 3, 1940. During those years, the Hocking Glass Co. took over the Daily Gazette (1934), tore down three more houses owned by Collins to the west of the Armory (1936), Hocking Glass Co. employed 1 in every 7 Lancaster residents (1936), Hocking Glass Co. signed a contract with the American Flint Glass Glassworkers, an American Federation of Labor affiliate (1937), and Hocking Glass Co. merged with the Anchor Cap Corporation of Wilmington, Delaware to become Anchor Hocking Glass Corporation (1937).

An Editorial (2 Dec 1937 E-G) challenged Lancaster with these words: “Lancaster today stands on the threshold of a marvelous future, beckoning with opportunity and laden with reward in the form of community progress, growth and prosperity. Within its grasp lies the promise of economic advancement via industrial development and its consequent expansion in population, housing and business operations…Lancaster must immediately provide additional accommodations or sacrifice any hope of reaping such benefits as may be attained by proper preparations.”

By the end of 1937 “Local officialdom” was adding their “…stamp of approval to the growing move for a hotel and housing construction program here in correlation with scheduled industrial expansion.” The planning, building, and opening of the Hotel Lancaster at 123 N. Broad St. will be completed in a future article. 

Readers may contact Harvey at [email protected]

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