LIMA — The reporter was impressed with Lima from the moment he stepped off the train from Upper Sandusky on a summer day in 1882 intent on verifying “the many statements going the rounds of the papers concerning the wonderful growth within the past few years.”
In a story reprinted in the Allen County Democrat on July 6, 1882, he praised Lima’s “well-proportioned business blocks,” its ”well-kept houses” and its “grand church edifices and other public buildings.”
Eighteen eighty-two was a good year to be impressed with Lima. On North Main Street a new courthouse was going up, which “when completed will be in architectural beauty one of the most commanding in Ohio,” the reporter wrote in the Wyandot Union. And, a block to the south on the northwest corner of Main and High streets, leading businessman Benjamin C. Faurot was building a grand opera house which, the reporter predicted, “will perpetuate his name when the body shall sleep in the dust of Lima’s beautiful God’s acre.”
Faurot also was building a somewhat less grand building that year — a hotel where opera house performers could lodge. Earlier that year he had purchased a chunk of land on the east side of the 200 block of North Elizabeth Street from German immigrant John Schnabel on which the hotel and the city’s first electric plant, to provide power for the opera house, would stand. The hotel building would outlive the opera house by decades.
Performers could walk from the stage door entrance of the opera house directly to a rear entrance to the hotel, although an item in the March 4, 1889, Lima Daily Times, makes one wonder why they’d want to. “Dwellers at the Faurot House had great fun hunting rats yesterday morning,” the newspaper wrote. “The ladies sought positions of safety, regardless of appearances.”
Rat hunting must have been great fun, for the Daily Times reported less than two months later that “the Faurot House has always been one of the most popular boarding houses in the city. A few weeks ago Mr. J. Tice, of Enterprise, became its genial landlord, and the patrons of the house are better pleased than ever.” Mr. J. Tice was one in a long line of “genial landlords” at the hotel, which came under new proprietors with dizzying frequency.
Early on the Faurot House was popular with a cross-section of lodgers, including doctors offering novel treatments and clairvoyants, some of whom offered pretty much the same thing.
In July 1892, a Delphos man was taken to the Faurot “for the purpose of having him treated by the Gold Cure Co. for drunkenness.” The Gold Cure treatment for alcoholism was wildly popular in the 1890s and often involved ingesting, among other things, a liquid tonic. It didn’t work for the Delphos man who didn’t get far into the treatment before dying. A representative of the Gold Cure Co. told the Daily Times on July 11, 1892, that “I did not give him but the tiniest bit of our cure, knowing that his nerves were in such a shattered condition …”
If the man had lived until 1893, he might have had better luck with Mrs. Dr. Stanley. On Jan. 3, 1893, an ad in the Daily Times announced that the “great English Clairvoyant and Palmist Mrs. Dr. Stanley” would be at the Faurot.” In addition to the ability to “read your future like an open book,” Dr. Stanley “removes all evil influence, cures witchery, fits, dropsy, rheumatism, neuralgia, female troubles and all diseases of long-standing and mysterious natures.” Even better, in 1894, the spiritual thrill-seeker could consult Mrs. Dr. El Paso at the Faurot. With Dr. El Paso’s aid, a May 5, 1894, ad in the Daily Times promised, “you can defy the elements, mock at fate and ignore destiny, court danger with impunity, scorn quarter, bend others to your will, draw friends nearer you and realize the wildest hopes that lie within the limit of human accomplishment.”
The proprietor of the Faurot House could have used Mrs. Dr. El Paso’s services a year later when a con-man checked in to the hotel and announced his intentions to start a newspaper. The man “was evidently not slow in becoming apprised of the fact that Lima is already too numerously supplied with newspapers,” one of those newspapers, the Times-Democrat, wrote Nov. 9, 1895, “for he shook the dust of Lima from his feet so hastily that he neglected to settle the board bill at the Faurot House …”
Between 1894 and 1901, the hotel passed through a handful of proprietors before emerging with a new name — the Colonial Hotel. By 1907, Faurot’s electric plant just to the north of the hotel had become a dance hall and auditorium, which wrapped around and behind the hotel.
Lee C. Faurot, the nephew of Benjamin C. Faurot and a one-time mayor of Lima, recalled the auditorium in a May 27, 1951, interview with The Lima News. The auditorium was used for boxing and wrestling exhibitions. “Among the notables who fought in boxing exhibitions were “Gentleman Jim” Corbett and “Denver Jack” Geyer,” Faurot said, noting that “unless one looks skyward, he wouldn’t see the top of the old Colonial hotel, which was next door south of the entrance to the auditorium.”
In 1923, the hotel was remodeled, with the hotel confined to the upper two floors. Ads in the late 1920s and early 1930s advertised sleeping rooms at daily and weekly rates. By the early 1930s, the Colonial Hotel had disappeared while the first floor and adjacent frontage was devoted to business.
The 1938 City Directory lists Milady’s Beauty Shoppe at 206 N. Elizabeth St., Nick Brown’s shoe shop at 208 N. Elizabeth St., and Hodosko Jewelers at 210 N. Elizabeth St.
John Hodosko was born in Czechoslovakia and came to Lima in 1913. After working for a number of local jewelers, he went into business for himself in 1937. He died in 1965. His son, Dr. Warren J. Hodosko, an optometrist, set up shop at 206 N. Elizabeth St. in 1952. Dr. Hodosko died in 2002.
Like Hodosko, and long-ago land owner Schnabel, Nick Brown was an immigrant. He was born in Greece where his parents had moved from Sicily. “In 1932, Brown bought out a shoe repair business on Elizabeth Street for $800 and began an enterprise which eventually outlived the building which housed it,” the News wrote March 28, 1977. Brown died in 1979.
Vincent Silone, too, was born in Sicily. In 1908, he came to Lima to work as a tailor and by the mid-1940s had opened a shop at 206 1/2 N. Elizabeth St. Silone worked in the shop into his mid-80s. He died in 1983.
By 1984, Petree’s Coin Shop was the lone tenant of the old hotel, which was razed for parking space a few years later.
Reach Greg Hoersten at TLNinfo@civitasmedia.com.