Holyoke Hotel Up For Sale At Public Auction

by Laurel | March 7th, 2014

07 March 1961

The Nonotuck Hotel

The Nonotuck Hotel
Later the Roger Smith

Roger Smith Ownership to Change Hands for Fifth Time

Holyoke — “Going, Going, gone” and the crash of the hammer against the auctioneer’s dias will close another chapter in the history of Holyoke’s leading hotel which was started as a civic project back in 1915 and within the space of 46 years has passed through four different ownerships.

Upset Price $250,000

Thursday afternoon at 2 Roger Smith Hotel will be sold at public auction, the sale to take place in the large ballroom of the hotel. Joseph P. Daly Inc., New York City, nationally known real estate form, will conduct the sale and Stephen A. McDonald, vice-president of the corporation, will be the auctioneer. The upset price for the 134 room building and the nearby parking lot has been set at $250,000, according to the legal notice of the sale, with the stipulation that a certified check of $25,000 or cash in that amount be presented by the winning bidder. Immediate possession of the hostelry is included in the auction notice.The history of the hotel originally named Hotel Nonotuck, goes back to 1915 when a group of Holyoke’s prominent businessmen, them members of the Board of Trade, the predecessor of the Chamber of Commerce, organized a campaign for funds to erect a hotel which would be the social center of the community and the Holyoke area. The campaign was successful and about a quarter of a million dollars was subscribed for the new building.

The firm of Esenwein and Johnson, architects at Buffalo, N.Y., was engaged to prepare the plans for the seven-story building, and the George P. B. Alderman and Co. of this city was the associate firm in the planning of the building. The general contractor of the red face brick building was Casper Ranger Construction Co. of this city and local firms were awarded the subcontracts for equipment and furnishings.

Dedicated to Energy

Dedicated “to the energy and enterprise of the citizens of Holyoke,” the Hotel Nonotuck was officially opened on the night of  June 9, 1915, with an attendance of 350 persons, representing all walks of the community’s industrial, mercantile and social life. The speakers for the gala occasion were Mary E. Woolley, then president of Mount Holyoke College; U.S. Rep. Allen T. Treadway of Stockbridge, who represented the First Congressional District for many years; John H. Woods, then mayor of the city; and Nathan P. Avery, a former mayor. Dr. John S. Lyon of the Board of Trade, presided as master of ceremonies.

The affair was described as one of the outstanding social occasions of the city, and it received widespread publicity because it was made possible by the civic minded group of citizens who spearheaded the drive which provided the finances to underwrite the project.

Gorham Benedict, the first manager of Hotel Nonotuck, came here from the Ten Eyck Hotel in Albany, N.Y., when the United Hotel Co. took over the operation of the hotel from the Holyoke group. He remained here for a few years and then a change was made and Patrick J. Behan arrived from New York City to become general manager. After the accidental death of Behan, the hotel was managed by Sidney Dawson, a brother-in-law of Behan.

Finance Troubles Arise

When financial troubles were encountered, the bondholders formed the Hadley Falls Hotel Corporation and Dawson gave up the management in 1930, when George Gowzner took possession, and with a loan of $80,000 from the RFC, undertook a modernization project of the building and operated it for one year under the name Hotel Holyoke. Gowzner changed over the lobby with a modernistic design and the cocktail lounge and dining room were also redecorated and refurnished.

Gowzner operated the hotel for just one year. In 1937 it was acquired by Roger Smith Hotel Corp., headed by Oscar A. deLima of New York City. The chain took possession of more than half of the shares in the Hadley Falls Hotel Co. of Holyoke, the hotel’s owning corporation.

When announcement was made last December at the annual meeting of the Roger Smith Hotel Group that the hotel was to be placed on the auction block, deLima said that while “the volume during 1960 rose over that in 1959 it was still not good enough.” He added “many things could be done to improve the Roger Smith in Holyoke,” but the corporation’s major objectives are in its hotel properties in the New York City area and Washington D.C. In recent years the corporation made improvements in the hotel ballroom, the roof garden and an automatic elevator was installed.

A large gathering of prospective buyers and concerned persons is expected to assemble in the ballroom for the auction and it has been reported over 50  inquiries by interested persons have been made concerning the auction details.

The consensus among Holyokers is that the new buyer will operate the building as a hotel, as it is stressed that it is the only place suitable for major social events, large party banquets and conventions.

Adapted from The Springfield Republican


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