Backstory and Context
Prior to the construct of the Lafayette Hotel, the Bellvue Hotel, built in 1892, stood at the same location. The Bellvue was a four-story-tall hotel with fifty-five steam-heated rooms. Each room was said to have a call bell system and a hot bath. The rate was $2-$3.00/night. The Bellvue burned down on April 26, 1916. The Lafayette Hotel opened its doors on July 1, 1918, built by a Marietta businessman. The hotel was incorporated as the Marietta Hotel Company, which owned the original building and the property.
Both the Lafayette Hotel and the city of Marietta are of historical importance. Established in 1788, Marietta is the first permanent settlement of the United States northwest of the Ohio River. It was the gateway to the Ohio country, and settlers moving west into what is now Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. The Lafayette sits on the Ohio River and in the heart of the Historic Downtown Marietta district. Just a short ride away are Marietta College, several museums, shops, and restaurants. Across the Muskingum River is Harmar Village, which offers more options to those wanting to explore the history of the area. The hotel itself offers several events besides the historically decorated and themed rooms containing historical artifacts. The Lafayette also features the Gun Room and the Rufus Putnam Dining room, which has been made famous by its large collection of Long Rifles that date from 1795 to 1880. The hotel also has a fully functional ballroom that has been part of the hotel since the beginning.
The hotel was not completely finished until June 30th; some of the furniture had not yet arrived, but the hotel was in a very fine condition when it opened. After July 6th, the hotel was ready for not only businessmen but also citizens of the Marietta area who booked for the near future at the Lafayette Hotel. The hotel was modern in every aspect with the best furniture. The rooms were furnished with steel beds, box springs, and felt mattresses. Each room had a rocking chair, large dresser, writing table, and other accessories. The hotel was equipped with a running elevator, too.
The first guest, W. J. Ambrose from Huntington, West Virginia, registered at the Lafayette Hotel and was welcomed by the manager, Reno G. Hoag. Hoag came to Marietta highly recommended and was popular and well-known throughout the eastern part of the United States. He started his career in hotels in his early years in Courtland, New York. He then served as a clerk, and later as a manager, at the Livingston Hotel in Michigan. He married Miss Daisy B. Cough on October 7, 1899. They lived at the hotel with their two children, S. Durwand and Miss Maxine L. Hoag.
When the hotel first opened, many of the guests were officers, salesmen,
or friends of the Safe Cabinet Company of the city of Marietta. Many
would come in the morning, and by midnight, Night Clerk Sam Gardiner had
every part of the hotel working to capacity with men from all over the
United States. The main cafe was opened and head waiter Robinson and
Chef Hathaway served the first official dinner at the Lafayette.
Hathaway was formerly a chef at the Courtland Hotel in Canton, Ohio for
12 years, serving gourmet food that made him well-known.
In 1921, Hoag and his son, S. Durwand Hoag, formed a partnership that purchased the contents of the building and signed a long-term lease for the building. In 1931, they incorporated it as the Hoag Hotel Co., Inc. In 1937, the owners demolished the Mansion House adjacent to the hotel and built the Hoag Addition of thirty rooms. They bought old buildings near the hotel and expanded for more parking and facilities. In 1973, Hoag sold the hotel to the Bel-Par Realty Corporation, whose owner was Harry Robinson Jr. Robinson Jr. then announced the sale of the historic hotel in 1983 to two local businessmen, Van Olnhausen and Ramon Fuentes. Robinson Jr. planned to stay active in the community of Marietta but wanted out of the business to plan for retirement. After the hotel was sold, the new owners continued to compete with other hotels by possessing a competitive spirit and planned to increase the size of the staff.
Poe, Dave. "Two local men plan purchase of Lafayette." The Marietta Times(Marietta), June 16, 1983.
Adams, Jann Kuehn. Behind the Doors of Historic Marietta. Marietta, Ohio. Jann Keuhn Adams, 2011.
Photo Gallery. Lafayette Hotel. Accessed July 11, 2018. http://www.lafayettehotel.com/photo-gallery/. Photo source.