The Early Inns
January 29, 1966
Written by Charles Collett
Submitted by: Robert Kingrey
The many fine mentions of the Tri-States newest, the Holiday Inn at South Point, recalls the fact that Ironton has several hotels of renown. At the time President Garfield was shot, this city had eleven hotels.
The name “inn” is very common now, but then the hotels were commonly known as “house”, such as the “Ironton House”, which was many years one of the finest and best known between Cincinnati and Wheeling. It was on Front and Railroad near the wharf boat.
The Ironton House hotel can be seen here – the large building on the right
It was customary in all river towns for the best hotels to be near where the passenger packets landed. In this city there were five hotels on Front Street, at Etna, Buckhorn, Lawrence, Railroad and Vernon streets, until the railroad double tracking destroyed them all. No reader can describe the White House on Front and Buckhorn. Newspaper stories described it as a sporty place where the racehorse and baseball fans registered, and Tin Pan Alley, the famous bowling place where Julia Marlowe, as a child, sang for pennies next door.
The Etna House was on the southwest corner at Second and Etna extending to Front Street. The Sheridan at Front and Lawrence was first to change from “House” to “Hotel”. Later it was known as the Moffett House and then the Palace Hotel. The Massie House was on Front at Vernon. It later was known as the Dennison and later the Vernon and a very popular place for poker games in the big bar room. All those on Front Street were three story buildings.
The Miller House was on Fourth at Lawrence, which is still a hotel location, the Shamrock. Years gone by it was known as the Farmer’s and rebuilt as the Clifford Hotel. The original Farmer’s House was on Second Street, now the location of the Bonanza.
The Centre House, opposite the courthouse built in 1852, today is the oldest building in the city. As a hotel it was known many years as the Clutts House. The original Clutts House was on Lawrence Street between Second and Third. The Reynolds House was a two story brick on Third and Buckhorn, a widely known hotel that, following the Gay 90’s, became known as “Pansy William’s Place”, and should be remembered today by most of the old timers.
The Union House was on Second between Jefferson and Madison. The saloon on the corner there was known as “Blue Waters”. All the early hotels had a bar in connection.
The Olive Hotel on Park Avenue, which was not built until 1890, was the only one that never had a saloon in connection.
That, dear reader is a little history of Ironton hotels during steamboat days when Fleetwood Park was a famous racetrack on Lawrence Street Road.