Baldwinsville History Mystery: Feb. 6, 2019
Question: The buildings in the background of this photo have all been altered or demolished. What street is pictured here and what was the reason for the water?
Last week’s answer: Last week’s mystery photo was taken in April 1970. The location was the north side of Marble Street, just east of Syracuse Street. The structure was the once famous Quinlan Hotel.
Erected in 1899 on the northeast corner of Syracuse and Water streets, the Quinlan Hotel was a central feature of the village’s south side commercial district.
“A fine hotel is to be erected at once on the Quinlan property, corner Syracuse and Water streets. The plans show a handsome three story building, with spacious verandas, the third floor being devoted to ball room purposes. The contract has been let, and the building will be a credit to its owner and an ornament to its location (Gazette & Farmers’ Journal, Nov. 23, 1899, page 1).”
With its corner location, distinctive tower and colored glass windows, the structure was impressive and commanding. It featured wide open porches facing both streets. The trolley stopped in front of the hotel and the D.L.&W. train steamed along the south side on Water Street. A livery stable located behind the hotel served those traveling by horse power. Mottville chairs lined the sweeping veranda while the second story balcony was outfitted with benches. The porches offered prime viewing stands for everyday traffic as well as passing parades and funeral processions.
A large bar, cafeteria and offices occupied the first floor with guest rooms and the proprietor’s suite above. The hotel even boasted a bridal suite. The third floor featured a large ballroom which became a community favorite for parties, meetings, dances and assorted other social events. The management was gregarious and welcoming and the cuisine received high ratings.
Ownership changed several times as did the hostelry’s name. The Quinlan Hotel was followed by the Hoffman House, which was followed by the Van Buren Hotel.
By 1907, it was evident that the hotel stood directly in the path of the newly designed Barge Canal. It was one of 65 structures that were either moved or demolished to make way for the new waterway. The entire north side of East Water Street was cleared. In 1908, Charles Hoffman of Syracuse was hired to move the three-story hotel to a site on Marble Street that was purchased from Aaron Clark.
With a new address, new owners and another new name, The Empire State Hotel underwent a renovation program. However, it was never able to recapture the glory days of the Quinlan Hotel and the Hoffman House. The hotel gave way to a boarding facility, then apartments, a tenement and finally an uninhabitable derelict.
As one of its once glamorous colored glass windows still clung to its frame, the last remnant of Baldwinsville’s grand hotels was demolished in April 1970.
Diane Mohan Druce, a reader from Crystal River, Florida, had the correct answer: “Do not remember the name, but is it the old hotel on Marble Street. Originally was moved from site of canal,” she wrote.
Email your guess to email@example.com or leave a message at 315-434-8889 ext. 310 with your guess by noon Friday. If you are the first person to correctly identify an element in the photo before the deadline, your name and guess will appear in next week’s Messenger, along with another History Mystery feature. History Mystery is a joint project of the Museum at the Shacksboro Schoolhouse and the Baldwinsville Public Library.