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Franklin Hotel, Ohio: Where figures like Amelia Earhart & Eliot Ness stayed

Nikola Petrovski
Jon Ridinger CC BY-SA 3.0

Acorn Corner is a six-story building, the history of which took it through a series of ups and downs that it, fortunately, managed to survive. The other name for this building is Franklin Hotel it is located in Kent, Ohio.

At the start of the 20th century, a movement was created to erect a new hotel in the city of Kent. The city had only two existing places for people to lodge, one of which was the Revere Hotel but this business shut down in 1899, which is when the need for a new and larger hotel appeared.

The hotel in a desperate state. Author: Ohio Redevelopment Projects – CC BY 2.0

The hotel in a desperate state. Author: Ohio Redevelopment Projects – CC BY 2.0

But nothing happened for almost two decades. Then, in 1919, the gathering of the necessary funds to erect this hotel began trough stock selling. At the same time, a naming contest was organized sponsored by the Board of Trade. Its aim was to come up with a name for the new hotel and the winner of this contest was the name Franklin Hotel; the old name of the city of Kent was Franklin Mills.

The contest for choosing a name for the hotel. 

The contest for choosing a name for the hotel. 

In September 1919, both the architect and the location were chosen, however, the site they decided to go with already had a property on it. This building was demolished and the construction of the hotel began so by December, the hotel began to rise above street level and by September 8th, 1920, the hotel was finished.

Rear view of the building. Author: JonRidinger – CC BY-SA 3.0

Rear view of the building. Author: JonRidinger – CC BY-SA 3.0

It was first opened for the stockholders allowing them to witness their investment first-hand and on September 12th, 1920, the hotel had its official opening. Since day one, Franklin Hotel was was very popular and received great by good reviews, but the reality was far from success, for the hotel was financially unstable, and the turn over of hotel managers was huge which brought no consistency to the business.

During renovation alternative view. Author: Ohio Redevelopment Projects – CC BY 2.0

During renovation alternative view. Author: Ohio Redevelopment Projects – CC BY 2.0

By 1934, the hotel was already in a desperate situation That same year the hotel was auctioned not once but twice. It was finally bought by Kent Hotel Incorporated. The new owners renovated the whole place and opened it once more but this time under the name of Hotel Kent.

Front view of the hotel. Author: JonRidinger – CC BY-SA 3.0

Front view of the hotel. Author: JonRidinger – CC BY-SA 3.0

The difference now was the Hotel Kent was financially stable. For fifteen years, its operation was overseen by, Russell O’Conke, whose tenure proved the hotel’s best years. The hotel had a reputation so great that attracted people from far and near. Notable figures such as Amelia Earhart, the famous female pilot who disappeared without a trace and Guy Lombardo, the famous American musician. Furthermore, this hotel was among the favorite places of Eliot Ness, the man who managed to arrest Al Capone.

Interior during renovation. Author: Ohio Redevelopment Projects – CC BY 2.0

Interior during renovation. Author: Ohio Redevelopment Projects – CC BY 2.0

The governor of Ohio, Martin L. Davey, had his office in this hotel. But then, in 1956, things started to take a different turn: a new motel was opened along State Route 59 called Eastwood Motors. The motel was supported by the American Automobile Association which allowed this motel to have a few comforts that Hotel Kent lacked, such as air conditioning.

Part of the interior alternative view. Author: Ohio Redevelopment Projects – CC BY 2.0

Part of the interior alternative view. Author: Ohio Redevelopment Projects – CC BY 2.0

Sadly, this is also the period when the railroad’s popularity started to decline in favor of automobiles. This is what made motels across America famous. In 1962 the hotel was given a new name, Hotel Kent-Elis. Another blow to Hotel Kent-Elis’s financial wellbeing followed when two more motels were opened.

Part of the interior. Author: Ohio Redevelopment Projects – CC BY 2.0

Part of the interior. Author: Ohio Redevelopment Projects – CC BY 2.0

Over the years, the hotel kept losing its ground until one Joseph Bujack bought the hotel in the 1970s. He repurposed the hotel and opened it as student housing. But the condition of the building so desperate that part of it was left completely abandoned. It was renovated in 2011 and renamed Acorn Corner. To this very day, this building is still in use and is known as the Kent Miracle.