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Hi. My name is Dannelle, and I have a small problem: I love historic buildings. (Say “Hi Dannelle.”) One of my favorite things about traveling to Europe is the plethora of old architecture. You can stand in a building that is easily eight hundred years old, and it is in full swing yet today with some great functionality. That is why when looking at Ottumwa Iowa Hotels, I was deighted to be offered a stay at the Historic Hotel Ottumwa.
Here in the states? We seem to have a disposable economy. In the 1960s, a lot of significant old buildings were torn down in the name of progress and replaced with cold, institutional, fall-out shelter style structures. We lose the beautiful carvings, intricately laid tiles, and even the fantastic cornice work. Stonemasons had created masterpieces with rudimentary tools, compared to what we have today, and many of those incredible skills have faded away as apprenticeships have ceased to be a necessity.
That is why I was so tickled to be invited to stay in the Historic Hotel Ottumwa during my recent visit to Iowa! The first thing I noticed when walking through the doors was a beautiful pattern of tile, and I knew I was going to be in my happy place.
Ottumwa Iowa Hotels: Hotel Ottumwa History
Earlier known as the Park-view Plaza, you can find the historic Hotel Ottumwa in the resurging downtown area of Ottumwa in the State of Iowa. It was developed as a first-class hotel in 1917 and played a significant role in the commercial development of this small city. It was during this time that the original first-class hotel of the town, Ballingall Hotel, was in a state of severe decline. As the story goes, a group of local businessmen came together to develop plans for a brand new hotel. An organization came up to sells shares to the public, and around 300+ people bought the shares with an average investment of $500. Bonds were sold to raise a total sum of $150,000. Finally, on September 4, 1917, a banquet was arranged, and a couple of days later, a vast reception and ball were organized to celebrate the opening of this iconic hotel.
Further changes and additions were to be made over the years. In 1927 a bowling alley was added, and a year later, a radio broadcast was possible from the hotel itself. The hotel underwent major renovations in 1939 and 1951. However, the hotel closed down in 1973 as the future of this property looked very bleak.
The Schwartz Family Saved the Historic Hotel Ottumwa
The hotel stood vacant and closed for almost a decade until the Schwartz family acquired it in 1982, and the property underwent another round of extensive renovation. The Schwartz family had faith in the city and the desire and vision to propel this hotel to new heights. The new owner vowed to deliver high-quality food and restored Hotel Ottumwa to its former pride and heritage. It is now regarded as an epitome of hospitality in the town. The hotel forms an integral part of its business side and the nightlife.
Design of the Property for This One of the Ottumwa Iowa Hotels
The Ottumwa Iowa Hotel building follows a Neoclassical style, which was conceived by a famous architectural firm. The six storied structure enjoys a height of about 72 ft. The unassuming exterior part of this iconic building brick-covered, which is dark brown and boasts of classical finery in terra-cotta. The unique feature of this building is that it takes a U-shape from the 3rd to the 6th floor. The building boasts many classical design features like metopes, rosettes, swags, triglyphs, and more. To boil it down for simplicity? It looks beautiful.
Ottumwa Iowa Hotels has it’s very own! Like any magnificent old building, the historic Hotel Ottumwa comes with a ghost. According to Haunted Places:
An apparition of a lady in white haunts the hotel basement, which formerly served as a ballroom. The ghost of a man in a suit haunts the hallways of the hotel. Strange noises and voices have been heard. The face of a man has also been seen in the hotel basement. Shadowy apparitions are seen in various parts of the building. Heavy breathing is heard when there is no one around.
A few of my fellow travel writers wanted to sneak down and hunt for the ghosts, but I opted out. I never heard if they actually went spector hunting or not, but they crack me up for the idea.
How is Hotel Ottumwa Doing Now?
Hotel Ottumwa operates in full swing today, and this historical structure receives thousands of guests every year. The Second Street Cafe is easily the most popular coffee shop in town as it is ‘the place’ for the locals to hang out, catch up on the latest news, and grab a huge cinnamon roll to go with their bottomless cup of coffee.
The Tom-Tom Tap is the epitome of a classic supper club lounge, down to the rounded booths. It’s the perfect place to unwind after work and visit with friends. They say they make a mean old fashioned, and I can attest to that fact. Warning to all of you Wisconsonites: they use whiskey (gasp) instead of brandy.
There is also a grand ballroom that hosts parties and weddings. The hotel is now the preferred hub for many reputed organizations for their meetings and banquets. The Grand Ballroom still draws a lot of guests who are struck by its grandeur.
One of the main attractions of this hotel is the wide variety of rooms. The Hotel Ottumwa can accommodate the needs of each and every discerning traveler. That is pretty amazing with their fifty rooms to choose from when compared to a newer mega hotel that often has 4-600.
The old-style feel of this historic hotel is perfect for solo visits and family vacations, and the complimentary breakfast offered by the Second Street Cafe is the perfect ‘icing on the cake.’ (or should I say cinnamon roll)
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