The historic Lafayette hotel has been through a lot in its nearly 100 year existence. It has survived floods, fires, expansions and renovations and still managed to retain many of its original features.
Though the Lafayette itself was opened in 1918, it actually replaced a hotel that had existed in the exact same location, explained hotel general manager Sheila Rhodes.
"Initially the hotel was built in 1892, and it was called the Bellevue. It was destroyed by a fire in 1916 and they opened it back up in 1918 under the Lafayette name," she said.
JASMINE ROGERS The Marietta Times
Front desk manager Julie Hambrecht fills out paperwork at the front desk of the Lafayette Hotel.
The hotel went through several owners. The original limited partnership that owned the hotel eventually sold it to Reno Hoag and his son Durward Hoag ran the hotel after his father's death.
The Hoags, who owned the hotel from 1924 until 1973, purchased an old mansion behind the hotel and knocked it down to build 30 additional rooms. This structure, which today includes the penthouse, is called the Hoag Addition, said Rhodes.
But it was probably the Hoags' successor-local businessman Harry J. Robinson- who ushered in some of the most serious changes at the hotel, said Rhodes.
The Lafayette Hotel
Location: 101 Front St., Marietta.
1918: Lafayette Hotel opens at the former site of the Bellevue Hotel.
1924: Reno Hoag and his son Durward Hoag purchase the hotel from the original group of businessmen who owned it.
1931: The Rufus Putnam Dining Room is opened.
1944: Reno Hoag dies, leaving the hotel to Durward.
1946: The Gun Room Dining Room opens.
1973: Durward sells the hotel to Harry Robinson.
1978: Robinson builds the Sternwheel Ballroom.
1984: Robinson sells the hotel to a group of out of town investors.
1989: Financial difficulties caused in part by costly remodels force investors to turn the mortgage over to Bank One, Columbus.
1991: The Lin family, of Columbus, purchases the hotel.
Robinson, who purchased the hotel in 1973, added the hotel's current ballroom in 1978 at a cost of $650,000.
"He had a lot of vision," said Rhodes. "He knew in order for the hotel to keep going, people wanting to have events were going to need a banquet hall."
Robinson also purchased two buildings that used to sit beside the hotel and knocked them down to have the parking lot built.
Marvin Ross, the hotel's chief engineer, has been with the hotel 35 years and can remember many of those changes happening.
"When I came here there were 171 rooms. Then we turned the little rooms into big ones," said Ross.
The change took the hotel down to 101 rooms, but more changes since have brought the hotel to 77 rooms.
Robinson did not only bring big changes for the hotel itself. It was Robinson who helped get Marietta's annual Ohio River Sternwheel Festival up and running, said Rhodes.
After Robinson, another consortium of out of town investors owned the hotel. Most recently, the hotel was purchased by the Lin family, of Columbus, in 1991, said Rhodes.
The face of the hotel's guests has also changed over the years.
For one thing, the hotel does not see as many tour groups, said Ross.
"The only real big difference is we used to have lots of bus tours come through," he recalled.
"When I first came (in 1996), it was tourists," she said.
The hotel has also gone through various phases through the years of business travelers, families and tourists, she noted. But today there is a good mix of all of those.
"Here lately we're having more business travelers," said Rhodes, attributing the increase to oil and gas business.
In 2012, the hotel set an all time sales record, and then they turned around and beat it in 2013, she said.