LIMA — As grand openings go, the grand opening of William Ehrich’s International Hotel on July 1, 1883, was memorable.
The Allen County Democrat reported July 4, 1883, that a “large crowd of citizens enjoyed the occasion. The Hibernian and Opera House bands were present and dancing was indulged to a late hour.”
A portion of the crowd also was overindulging in the free beer, the Lima Demcratic Times reported. “On the night of Ehrich’s hotel opening a crowd of ‘bums’ collected within the bar-room and refused to go out, and it was found necessary to use force to clear the room. Shortly after having been put out of the room, the crowd began to bombard the house with bricks, stones and other missiles, breaking the plate glass windows, marring the woodwork and doing other damage.”
When Ehrich went out to clear the crowd “someone shied a brick at the speaker, hitting him in the ear and very nearly passing him over to Kingdom come,” the Democrat reported.
“They then ran into the bar-room and carried away a lot of flasks of liquor, tobacco and cigars,” the Democratic Times wrote.
The International Hotel, at 418 N. Tanner (now Central) St., just south of the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago (later the Pennsylvania) railroad, would change proprietors and names with a dizzying frequency before, in the mid-1930s, becoming the headquarters of Taylor Glass. With the 21st century it got a new owner and an old name.
And it all began with Ehrich, who acquired the property when he married Anna Mary Herold, the widow of Michael J. Herold. Ownership would remain in the hands of the Herold heirs for decades. The three-story hotel was constructed in 1882-83. On June 27, 1883, the Democrat called it “one of the best and handsomest in our city.”
By the time der Lima Courier, a German-language newspaper, reported Ehrich’s death March 16, 1887, oil had been discovered in Lima and a new depot was planned for the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago just north of the hotel.
About 1888, the International Hotel became the Arlington House with Frank S. Kliendienst as proprietor.
The Arlington House served as first stop for several people with a shocking introduction to electricity. The Democratic Times reported Aug. 3, 1888, that street car conductor Frank McGrath was “nearly killed” when he completed the circuit while reattaching a traveler to the overhead wires near the Arlington House. Under the headline “LET LOOSE WIRE ALONE” the Democratic Times wrote Oct. 19, 1888: “Miss Mary Connell who works at the Arlington House, happening out in front of the hotel, caught hold of the wires to put them out of the way, and for a few minutes after taking hold of the wire did not know whether she was herself or somebody else.”
On Sept. 1, 1891, the Democratic Times reported, J.A. McCormick of Pittsburgh “purchased the furniture and leased the Arlington Hotel for ten years …” The Arlington became the Hotel Mack.
McCormick would operate the hotel for less than a year, barely enough time for him to comment on the eating habits of Nebraskans and for his son to learn a painful lesson about the napalm-like quality of hot taffy.
When a party of 35 Nebraskans dined at the Arlington, McCormick opined in the Democratic Times on Oct. 24, 1891, they ate “three times as much as eastern men …” His son J.B. McCormick, meanwhile, was attending a taffy pull when he “got hold of some (taffy) that was very hot and which stuck to his hand, and the third finger of his left hand is so badly burned that the nail is likely to come off,” the newspaper reported Dec. 4, 1891.
“The Hotel Mack has again changed hands …,” the Democratic Times said July 15, 1892. “The new proprietor is D.D. Northrop, of Erie, Pa., a gentleman who has had twenty years’ experience in the hotel business. The house will be remodeled from top to bottom.” Enter the Northrop House.
Exit the Northrop House. “Mr. Northrop has had charge of the house for the past three years, and although an excellent hotel man, was unable to overcome the bad reputation given the house several years ago,” the Allen County Republican Gazette wrote Sept. 29, 1896.
“Mr. (A.S.) Manhard, the popular landlord of the late Cambridge House, situated on the corner of Wayne and Tanner streets, has moved into the Northrop House, just south of the P.Ft.W.&C. depot.” Manhard took his hotel name a block north with him to the Northrop, which now became the Cambridge Hotel, the Times-Democrat reported Jan. 11, 1897. The former Cambridge became the Windsor House.
On June 3, 1897, Manhard was credited with saving the life of a young hotel guest who blew out his gas light instead of turning it off. The Times- Democrat scolded the 29-year-old victim: “Strange as it may seem, nevertheless it is true that even in this enlightened day when gas is commonly used, and when all should know of its deadly effect, some people are living who have not aroused themselves from their Rip Van Winkle sleep or enlightened their minds by reading of newspapers or magazines.”
A fire in the hotel on Christmas Eve 1898 damaged the third floor, which subsequently was removed.
Manhard sold the Cambridge to C.K. DeVries of Wheeling W.Va., on May 17, 1904. Fire gutted the Cambridge in August 1904, killing a traveling man and causing $25,000 damage. Uninsured, DeVries was promptly out of business.
Fred Herold, whose family still owned the building, “is rushing repairs on the Cambridge Hotel and the last vestige of the destructive fire will soon be wiped out,” the Times-Democrat wrote Oct. 22, 1904. In September 1905, the Cambridge reopened under what the Times-Democrat called two “eminently capable men, Herman Steinhilber, formerly of the Lima House, and D.M. Anderson, who is too well known in hotel and restaurant circles to require any further introduction.”
Anderson needed no further introduction to the Lima police. On Jan. 20, 1906, the wife of a man who lost “all of his money at the Cambridge” in a game of craps filed charges against Anderson and another man, the Times-Democrat wrote. Later that year, police raided the hotel “and arrested the proprietor on the charge of conducting an improper resort …”
Anderson also was among nine men called on the carpet by Mayor Becker on March 10, 1908, calling for “wine rooms” to be abandoned. “The hell dives must be abandoned,” said the mayor according to the Lima Daily News. All nine promised to do better.
By July 1913, “Cabby” Steinbaugh was operating the Cambridge, but not for long. July 1914 ads in the Daily News list Martin Hughes as the proprietor of the Turf Hotel, formerly the Cambridge Hotel.
Steinbaugh returned to the pages of the Times-Democrat on Sept. 7, 1916. Steinbaugh, by then listed as a brewery employee, was indicted “one week after the riot of Aug. 30” as a ringleader “involved in the attempt to lynch Charles Daniels, and the subsequent near-lynching of Sheriff Sherman E. Eley.” Another story on the same page notes that “Charles Daniels, the negro charged with assault on Mrs. Vivian Baber, was brought back to Lima for a few minutes last night and again spirited away.”
A story in the Feb. 23, 1921, edition of the Lima News and Times-Democrat praised the Turf/Cambridge, along with the Lima House, as one of two “old Colonial style” hotels in Lima. H. Ingleright, “well-known to the Lima Public and originator of the cafeteria at the Waldo Hotel,” is listed as proprietor.
H.M. Waters purchased the lease on the hotel from D.D. Hower, of Fort Wayne, in June 1929. The Lima Morning Star and Republican Gazette reported March 19, 1930, that Mrs. Josephine Ross had purchased the lease.
A June 14, 1931, ad urged “boys bring your sweethearts to the dining room” of the New Cambridge Hotel under Mr. and Mrs. Clark Dull.
In August 1936 the hotel was put up for sheriff’s sale and on Nov. 1, 1936, was sold to Rebecca Taylor for $1,400. Taylor’s family would operate Taylor Glass out of the building until the 1990s. The city of Lima purchased the railroad depot and the old hotel in 2002. The depot now houses the city utilities department while the hotel, now known as Cambridge Place, is devoted to meeting rooms.