"Jabe" was her father, Jabez Clark, who built his hotel on the south side of the present Commercial Avenue, at Burnham Street. Their home was also the site of a small store, Dr. Clark's office, and the office of the Justice of the Peace. Judge Clark presided at trials, was the "marryin' squire," and took time to welcome the weary traveler.
This building was on the south side of Main Street in Lowell, across the street from the Halsted House, on a site now west of the present Lowell Moose Lodge. In 1877 a man was shot to death as he was walking through the gate of the picket fence at the Thorn Hotel.
Thorn kept his hotel on Main Street for years, but in the 1850's moved his store to Commercial Avenue and Wall Street, built on a limestone foundation. A large stone from that foundation now holds a plaque in Lowell's Olde Towne Square Park, now a part of the downtown historical district on the National List of Historical Places.
When the cornerstone of the 1896 school, still standing on Main Street in Lowell, was opened in 1986, a history of Lowell, hand-written by H.H. Ragon, was found. He wrote that there were three hotels in Lowell in 1896. With the coming of the railroad in the early 1880's, the hotels were busy and often filled to capacity. Traveling salesmen would stay several days, renting a rig at a livery stable to travel the Lowell area in their business ventures.
Travelers visiting their relatives would often stay at the local hotels. Many visitors from northern cities would come to Lowell on the Monon railroad on weekends. Some of the early hotels would meet the trains with horse drawn vehicles to furnish transportation to their business.
There is only one old hotel building still standing in Lowell, on the north side of Commercial Avenue a few doors west of the railroad. The old frame siding is now covered with wooden shingles, the tall, square, facade long gone. (Many of the shingles were nailed to the old building in the 1930's by the Old Timer.)
The center section of the building (18' X 36') was built about 1860 for school purposes, but large additions were added in a few years, when the building became the Union House Hotel at the time of the Civil War.
Bought by pioneer Jabez Clark in 1861, the hotel was rented to David Stringham, then rented and operated by William Nichols, and then by George Mee, who bought the property.
About 1900 the hotel was owned by Peter Schmal, who sold to his brother, Fred Schmal, in 1903. Fred Schmal was the owner until 1916, when he sold to his brother-in-law, Henry Heiser. Several owners called it the "Commercial Hotel," and for a few years it was the "Bower Manor," named for owner Bill Bower.
Hotel business was thriving in those early years, and large groups of hungry visitors from Chicago would come to Lowell on the 10 o'clock train, wait until noon for a family-style chicken dinner at Schmal's Hotel, enjoy the parlor, the porch or the yard, to wait to board the four o'clock train for the trip back to the city, most carrying gallon jugs of Lowell's sulphur water.
The big chicken dinner with huge piles of mashed potatoes and vegetables were served for one dollar.
Many will also remember the large plates served there when Ruby Zander was the owner. Often it was delicious chicken and dumplings with a huge peach cobbler for dessert.
The off-white bedspread now on the circa 1870's walnut bed in the master bedroom at the Halsted House Museum is from the old Schmal Hotel. The museum is open on the first Saturday of each month, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and is also open for special tours.
Before bathrooms were installed in the early hotels, guests were furnished large pitchers of water and a china basin for bathing, as well as a chamber pot, with wooden facilities outside. After 1900 guests often waited in the hall for their turn in the one bathroom serving the 12 rooms at the hotel on "German Hill." Some of the rooms are still rented, while the old lobby area is now an antique shop.
The Hotel Alyea was known to stand for a few years at the southeast corner of Jefferson Street and Mill Street, a livery stable for guests nearby. -- From an advertisement in a 1911 Lowell Tribune: "Hotel Alyea, H.D. [Harrison] Alyea [1861-1944], prop. $1.50 per day, meals 35 cents - Good livery in connection."
In the Nov. 13, 1913, Lowell Tribune: -- "H.D. Alyea, Prop. Livery, Food and Sales Stable - Fine Rigs, good Horses, First Class Service - special attention to Funeral and Wedding Parties and Traveling Men."
In the 1920's the Old Timer saw many short posts, presumed to be the supports for the hotel, which may have been consumed by fire after a short life on that corner. In the 1930's there was a small gas station standing at an angle there, now the site of an auto parts building.
Back in 1880 a fine frame building was built on the present site of Legion Park near Cedar Creek. An early business there was the Ceiga Hotel and Tavern, advertising for about a dozen rooms available on the second floor. In 1909 the business was listed as "Pete's Place," a saloon and hotel operated by Peter Seramur. From a local ad in 1913: -- "The Seramur Restaurant, Mrs. Peter Seramur, owner. - Meals, short orders and Bakery Goods."
By 1916 the owner was Will J. Tanner, who advertised a billiard parlor, cigars, tobacco, candies and soft drinks. Ed Wheeler's barbershop was also housed in the building, later owned for many years by John Hepp, followed by the Kepshire Tavern.
In 1963 the old hotel building was sold to a Crown Point firm and was torn down.
On the south side of Commercial Avenue near the Mill Street stoplight once stood another building with a hotel on the upper floors. Early in the 1900's Louis Berg, Sr., was the owner of the Crown Tavern there, and through the years it was the site of "The Fair," a variety store operated by George Kimmet.
L.W. "Billy" Brown had his "Bazaar" there, and a pool hall and bowling alley followed. Frick's Recreation was located there for many years. The building was demolished years ago. The late Beatrice Horner Castrogiovanni, Cedar Lake town historian, wrote in 1987: "The brightest days of the grand old resort hotels at Cedar Lake were from 1890 to 1930, when at least forty hotels, in the course of time, circled our shores." During those years, hundreds of visitors would come on excursion trains for their weekend vacations. A few of those old buildings still survived, now used as dwelling or business.
The Lassen Hotel, once one of the famous vacation spots, is now the very interesting Lake of the Red Cedars Museum, operated under fine leadership of the Cedar Lake Historical Association.
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