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Some Early HotelsThe Eagle tavern, first hostelry in Grand Rapids, was erected in 1834, at Louis street and Market avenue. Construction was begun by J. S. Potter, but the tavern was completed by Uncle Louis. William H. Godfroy was the first landlord, followed two years later by Louis Moran and in 1838 by Canton Smith. Landlords at the Eagle changed quite rapidly, the hosts at this tavern including J. T. Finney in 1841, Leonard and Marston C. Luce in 1843 and 1844, Charles Trompe, Gideon Surprenant, and D. E. Fisher in 1849, then Mrs. Fisher, William R. Barnard in 1853, Washington Heath in 1856, J.L. Heath in 1859, George C. Evans in 1863, and then A. R. Antisdel until 1871. In that year J. K. Johnston became the Eagle's landlord, and he continued in that capacity for many years, until his death.
The original Eagle was a story and a half wood structure, which was gradually enlarged until it became a quite capacious hostelry. It was burned February 5, 1883, and the present brick structure took its place.
Charles H. Carroll built a tavern in 1837 at Michigan street and Bond avenue. This originally was called the Kent, then the Grand River Exchange, and some years later the Bridge Street house. John Thompson was the first landlord, followed by Solomon Withey, Truman H. Lyon, William A. Tryon, Joshua Boyer, Dan Moore and Milton Hyde. Gottfried Christ then leased the hotel and kept it until February 10, 1855, when the old wood structure was burned. A brick hotel replaced it, to be opened with a grand ball June 12, 1857.
Hiram Hinsdill erected a hotel at Monroe and Ionia avenues on the site of the present Morton, in 1835. Myron Hinsdill purchased the property and opened it as Hinsdill's hotel in 1836. Three or four years later Canton Smith purchased it and named it the National hotel. He continued as the landlord until 1850, when he went to California. While Canton Smith was out west the hotel had for its landlords Cary & Collins, Granger & Whittemore, Granger & Hall, Granger & Mills, and T. H. Rathbun. Then Mr. Smith resumed possession, continuing until about 1865, when James A. and Israel C. Smith became managing proprietors. On September 27, 1855, while managed by Granger & Mills, the original structure was burned and a new one, four stories and of wooden construction, replaced it. John T. Barker, Mrs. Barker and Campbell & Beach then successively managed the hotel until the second building was destroyed by fire September 20, 1872. Israel C. Smith and George B. Morton erected a four story brick hotel and named it the Morton house. They rented it to Pantlind & Lyon and afterward to Pantlind & Co., this firm consisting of A.V. and J. Boyd Pantlind. After some years another story was added and the hotel continued under J. Boyd Pantlind's management until it was torn down to be replaced by the present handsome Morton hotel.
In 1834 Louis Campau built a dwelling house west of Market avenue, near Monroe. He and his family occupied it until 1838. Afterwards it was leased by the Misses Mayless, who kept boarders there. A few years later it was opened as a hotel, the Mansion house, by James T. Finney. Other landlords of the Mansion house were Marston C. Luce and Truman H. Lyon. Then Charles Rathbun changed its name to the Rathbun house, and succeeding him as landlords were Hiram Rathbun, Dorsey & Thornton, DeWitt Shoemaker, Jules Granger, W. P. Mills, Benjamin Smith, Truman H. Lyon, Jr., and Charles D. Lyon. In 1872 the hotel came into the hands of A.R. Antisdel, who remained its landlord until the property was sold and the Widdicomb block erected on the corner.
Among the many early taverns was the Michigan house, at Market avenue and Louis street; a small tavern on Canal street near Erie, known successively as the Farmers' home, the Bender hotel and the Courtright tavern; the Exchange, between Market avenue and the river near Ferry street; the Franklin house, on Canal street south of Erie; the Arnold house, on West Bridge street, built in 1848; the American, later the Plant house, on Scribner avenue south of Bridge street, built in 1852; the Watson house, on West Bridge street, by John Watson; the Barnard house, west of Market avenue near Fulton street, opened in 1855 by William R. Barnard; the Ohio house, on the site of the present hotel of that name, on Canal street; the Taylor house, at Coldbrook and Taylor, built about 1857 by Charles W. Taylor.
A frame building, erected at Canal street and Crescent avenue in 1836, was remodeled in 1854 and converted into a hotel. In February, 1855, it was opened as the Western hotel by John W. Squier and Charles P. Babcock, the latter being the landlord. In 1857 Enos Merrill was the landlord and after him George C. Evans, who changed its name to the Bronson House. In 1863 it was kept by E. J. Herrick and afterwards by Aaron Courtright, who managed it until it was destroyed by fire in May, 1871.
Sweet's hotel was built in 1868 and opened by Lawrence & French in 1869. They were succeeded in March, 1870, by T. Hawley Lyon. The block was lifted four feet in 1874, to the grade of Canal street. Other landlords were T. F. Pickering and N.C. Johnson, and finally J. Boyd Pantlind. The name was changed to the Pantlind. The structure was torn down, to give way to the present palatial Hotel Pantlind, completed in 1916.
Transcriber: Ronnie Aungst
Created: 14 December 1999