A Traveler’s Brochure of Hotels in Historic Downtown Mansfield

When a city has a heart that is strong, and a soul that is plugged in, it generates an aura like a magnet that attracts people. People are drawn; they all want to visit.

So there is only one essential commodity that the vital city needs: an abundance of nice places for all the visitors to stay.

Mansfield always had plenty of hotels downtown. Here is a little digital brochure of all the places you could book your stay in the last 200 years.

When Mansfield was a young village in the early 1800s, all of the business and legal activity of town was centered on the Square, so that’s where all the hotels were located.  Among the first was the Franklin Hotel, seen in this 1840 image on the far left.  It was gone long before the 1872 courthouse was built on that corner.

The SW corner of the Square had the longest continual hotel accommodations beginning in 1814 when the North American Hotel was built.  In 1829 the structure was fortified and enlarged as a brick building, and it was unquestionably Mansfield’s premiere lodging with huge stables in the rear facing Second Street.  It served as the town travel station as well, meeting 8 to 10 stagecoaches a day.

The North American’s business began to stutter at the end of the 19th century when challenged by many rival downtown hotels, and took a new name in 1894 as the Park Hotel; but it was given new life in 1900 when the place was entirely remodeled and modernized into the Southern Hotel. It stood until 1979.

For many generations beginning in 1819, a well known and widely celebrated hotel in Mansfield was the Wiler House.  Begun originally in a log cabin on Fourth Street, it modified into a brick structure on that site for a generation, and then took the location seen in this photo on the west side of North Main Street between Third and Fourth.  The famous establishment, once noted in travel endorsements all over the US in the 19th century, suffered various misfortunes in the 20th century and was demolished in 1927.

The site where the St. James stood is today a municipal parking lot at the SE corner of North Main and Fourth Streets; but for a century of Mansfield’s history it held a sequence of premiere accommodations for hotel guests.  As early as 1830 there was a hotel there that burned, and in 1844 a brick hotel rose in its place called The Teegarten House.  When Mr. Teegarten left town in 1850, it became the Weldon Hotel, and in 1860 the place was completely remodeled and enlarged into the St. James Hotel.

By the end of the 19th century the St. James was entirely refurbished and refurnished, and reopened in 1891 as the VonHof Hotel.  It stood almost directly across Main Street from the Wiler House, and the two of them ruled the Mansfield hotel scene until the late 1920s when a more modern facility was built uptown–the Leland.  At that time the two old giants faltered, and the VonHof closed in 1928.

Guests who stayed at the Tremont House had to sleep as best they could with trains roaring through all night.  Situated  on North Diamond Street near the Union Station where two major railroads crossed, the Tremont was ideally placed for travelers, not so ideally for sleeping.  Built in 1882, the place had a reputation for the best coffee between New York and Chicago.  In 1917 it was purchased by Ohio Brass next door, and used as a company cafeteria and clubhouse until its demise in 1933.

At the SW corner of Diamond and Fourth Streets, an entrepreneur named Barnard Wolfe conceived and built a gloriously imposing office building in 1869, which he named the Barnard.  It never made it as an office complex, but succeeded very well as a hotel named the Sherman in 1883.

What began as the Barnard, and then the Sherman, wound up as the Brunswick Hotel in 1897.  The street level storefronts were largely retail establishments, except for the one closet to the corner which was Mansfield’s first Nickelodeon, called Dreamland.  The Brunswick became part of the municipal parking lot in 1964.

The Desoto Hotel was built in 1909 on the south side of Third Street, east of Main, as the last of the old-time hotels built in downtown.  It served as the marquee for the Alvin Theater for a couple decades, and then suffered when the Leland made Third Street far less traveled.  It was destroyed in 1965 by a dramatic and deadly fire.

Another prominent downtown hotel entered the city directory originally as a boarding house and large commercial business called the Union Laundry on the SE corner of Diamond and Third Streets.  In 1922 the structure was extensively remodeled and greatly enlarged, and began business as the Fairview Hotel, in order to accommodate traveler traffic from the city’s interurban streetcar line that had its station directly across Third Street.  The Fairview was torn down in 1962 to make way for the city parking garage.

In the 1920s, the city wanted a modern hotel to go with its skyscrapers, so they built the Leland in 1927.  On the corner was a drug store, newsstand and soda fountain, and inside guests found a coffee shop, cocktail lounge, two dining rooms, and a grand ballroom.  When the hotel was enlarged in 1952, there were up to 300 rooms, but business staggered when the interstates took traffic away from downtown, and the Leland fell to the wrecking ball in 1976.

They were ultra modern state-of-the-art accommodations when the Downtown Motor Lodge opened in 1964 on the NE corner of Park Avenue West and Sturges Avenue, with fine dining at the Blue Dolphin restaurant and cocktail lounge.  The place survived with different names until 2010.

The Mansfield Travelodge, on the south side of Park Avenue West east of Sturges, was built around 1963; and stayed in that franchise chain until 1990 when it became a Merit Inn.  In recent years it has had other names, and today continues receiving guests as the M Star Hotel. 

They have big shoes to fill in carrying on the Mansfield tradition of notable downtown hotels, but the Holiday Inn stands tall in representing and accommodating our community and her guests since 1984.

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