At the corner of Front & Greene Streets sits a grand, steam-boat era hotel. The Lafayette Hotel will turn 100 years old in July this year, but hospitality on that corner goes much further back. In the hallway just off of the Gun Room Restaurant, there is an array of beautiful old photos showcasing the Lafayette corner throughout the years.
The Mansion House Hotel was once located where the Hoag Extension of the Lafayette sits today. Built in 1835, the Mansion House was known for its ‘fine accommodations’ and excellent food. During the 102 years in which the building stood, it went from a high-class hotel to a boarding house. But always it was used to welcome Marietta’s guests. The Mansion House had many names throughout the years, being known as the Scott Hotel, Bradford Hotel, Clay City Hotel and, in its final incarnation, The St. Charles Hotel. The building, once entertaining the cream of Marietta society during balls and dinners, was in a decrepit state when sold to the Marietta Hotel Company in 1937. Being a notable and historic local structure, plans were made by the company to renovate and incorporate it into the Lafayette’s expansion plans. Sadly, this was not to be, as the building’s situation was deemed irreparable. It went down in 1937, with remnants such as the old call bell system being saved and put on display inside the Lafayette Hotel.
Before the Lafayette Hotel was built, there existed another hotel in its place. In 1892 a hotel rose beside the Mansion House, commanding one of the most beautiful views in Marietta. The hotel was aptly named ‘Bellevue’ and was a showpiece for a Marietta in the midst of economic prosperity. Original plans of the hotel placed the entrance on Ohio Street, instead of Front Street, a great indicator of the importance Ohio Street once played in Marietta’s old business district. Inside the Bellevue 5 sample rooms could be found (places for traveling merchants to display their wares for local merchants to purchase); the Bellevue even had its own Barber shop.
A grand staircase in the lobby led to an elegant restaurant overlooking the Ohio River on the second floor, in addition to a few deluxe suites. A kitchen was also located in the back of the second floor. A large suite of rooms faced Front Street and had a small balcony attached. This balcony came in useful during the 1913 flood, as johnboats filled with patrons used the balcony to access the bar that had been opened on the second floor. The worst flood in Marietta’s history did not stop the party at the Bellevue!
There were no private bathrooms located in the hotel originally, each floor had bathroom and toilet facilities available to all the guests. However, by 1906, a few deluxe rooms did incorporate private bathrooms. The Bellevue had 56 rooms and utilized an electric call bell system. The rates were around $2-3 per day, including meals.
Unfortunately, the Bellevue burnt down in 1916, after an accidental fire started in a storage room on the top floor. It was a windy day, and the fire quickly spread. The Lafayette Hotel was built in the ruined foundations of the Bellevue Hotel and opened in July of 1918.
Mr. S. Durward Hoag, a long-time manager of the Lafayette Hotel and prolific writer, local historian and photographer, claimed that hospitality on the Lafayette corner went back even before the Mansion House was built in 1835. In 1788, a tavern was built at the ‘Picketed Point’, near where the Lafayette now stands. That would mean visitors to Marietta have been welcomed at the Lafayette corner since the founding of the town.