(The New Hotel Grandville - Albert Medemar, Proprietor)
(Wilson Avenue and Chicago Drive)
Grand Valley Advance - October 16,2007
At the turn of the twentieth century, the Village of Grandville, which boasted a dozen hotels, with bars, gambling, and possibly even prostitution, was not known as the safe, stable place that it is today.
Riverboats and the inter-urban railroad would bring pleasure-seekers from Grand Rapids. Grandville was also popular with workmen from lumber companies and the gypsum mines.
The brick structure at 4005 Chicago Drive, the northwest corner of Wilson Avenue, most recently housed the Vacuum Cleaner Center. Late in the summer of 2006, a storm caused the roof of the building to cave in. The building has since been vacant and due to structural damage is scheduled to be demolished soon.
This was not the first calamity to strike this spot. Over a century ago, a large, three-story hotel, stood on that corner until it was destroyed by fire. According to one rumor, the hotel also served as a house of prostitution.
After the fire, the building was replaced by the New Hotel, which also later burned down, and was replaced by the Medemar Hotel. Another fire occurred in the mid-20th century, when the building was being used as a restaurant, one of many business that have been located there. The DDA recent purchased the damaged building from the Sjaarda family and it will be demolished.
When the Sjaarda family was remodeling the building in 1999, they found old coins, tools, charred lumber, a haunted house in the basement. There were rooms in the basement that made no sense, like a maze. A stairway that leads to a storeroom behind which was a wooden wall covered with cement blocks. When the wall was taken down, it revealed a collection of small rooms. The Grandville historians thought perhaps these chambers were used as jail cells for rowdy hotel patrons, or possibly secret bunkers for the Underground Railroad in the 1800ís. Sjaarda said he also found horse troughs under a walled-in upstairs bathroom; a coal cart and a section of track that ended strangely at a blank wall; an old wooden fuse box, dating from when the building possessed one of the first electrical services in the area. In a crawl space below the floor joists, which had been filled with rubble from the previous buildings, Sjaarda found part of a skeleton, which he never identified. The building had been remodeled over 50 times, with at least 12 different businesses so it was in need of being removed.
Created: 22 November 2007