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Lafayette Hotel has long history as Rotary meeting place

The Marietta Rotary Club has been meeting at the Lafayette Hotel for the 100 years that the club has been active, and members of the club say it is because of the history, convenience and good accommodations.

Daneka Hedges, Marietta Rotary Club president, said the Marietta Rotary Club started in 1921 and has had a strong relationship with the Lafayette Hotel since the start.

“We have always used the ceremonial ball room on Thursdays at noon. That hasn’t changed for 100 years,” Hedges said. “We display our banners there and store our things. Also we have placards that state that the club meets there.”

Robert Kirkbride, member of the Marietta Rotary Club, said the bond between the Rotary Club and the Lafayette Hotel was unique to the area.

“In the whole world, the Rotary Club’s arrangement with the Lafayette is the longest continuous marriage that I know of,” Kirkbride said.

Hedges said the history between the Rotary Club and the Lafayette Hotel is what keeps them there.

“There are so many club members that have been in the club since their early 20s so they know the history,” Hedges said. “Since the Rotary Club has been around for so long, keeping that history is important. We have had the same style of meetings since the 1920s. Rotary hasn’t changed, we just have changed our goals.”

For a brief period in the 2000s, Kirkbride said the Marietta Rotary Club became dissatisfied with the Lafayette Hotel and parted ways.

“For that period of time, we met at the Marietta Country Club. When they made peace, we eventually moved back,” he said.

Kirkbride said he was initially introduced into the club his senior year of high school through the Rotary Club’s tradition of inviting seniors to attend meetings.

“In May of 1957, I began attending the meetings. Years later when I moved back to the area of Marietta, I became a full member of the Rotary Club. Rotary met for years at the bar of the Lafayette,” Kirkbride said. “The meetings then began to be held in the new Sternwheel Room that was put on as an addition to the hotel.”

Kirkbride said one of the main reasons the Rotary Club has met at the Lafayette Hotel is because of the history of people at the hotel.

“The longtime owner of the Lafayette, Reno Hoag, was one of the founding members of the Rotary. His son Durward Hoag had great foresight and began buying up buildings around the Lafayette Hotel to provide public parking. He knew that people would begin travelling much more by car,” Kirkbride said. “Interstate 77 was not plotted in President (Dwight) Eisenhower’s original plan. Durward got political help and helped bring about the I-77 that we know today. That helped save the Lafayette.”

Hedges said she is happy to continue meeting at the Lafayette Hotel and helping the community.

“We’re excited to always be doing the good works for the community internationally and locally. Service above self, we always say that,” Hedges said.

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