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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

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The Vendome Hotel

The old Vendome Hotel Building on Fulton St., to the west of the Press building, is being razed to make room for newspaper expansion. Built in 1886 by the late Gen. Israel C. Smith, the destruction of the building marks the disappearance of the last building constructed by one of its most prominent residents and businessmen of earlier days.

The former hotel building and a small one-story building to the west of it are to be replaced by a one-story addition to the Press building, to contain the mailing room and newsboys’ lobby with the rest of the area occupied by loading platforms and housing accommodations for the fleet of Press trucks.

Dexter First Owner

Samuel Dexter obtained the land from the government, in 1832. Later Lyman I. Daniels and D. C. Sheldon, for whom Sheldon Ave. was named, owned the property. For a long time it was the homestead of Solomon O. Kingsbury, village clerk of Grand Rapids in 1839, county treasurer from 1849 to 1852, and postmaster in 1867.

Following Kingsbury’s death the property was sold to Gen. Smith who put up a three-story building to be used as a family hotel, operated under the name of the Vendome. Later the name was changed to the Plaza, and in still later years it was used for various commercial purposes.

The Press and The Herald

About 1904 the Herald, which had been located at Pearl St. and Campau Ave., occupied the building and continued to do so until it purchased the property to the west, then occupied by the Park Place Hotel, and build its present building.

Both the Press and the Herald chose their new locations partly because of the growth of the business district to the east and partly because of the danger from high water from Grand River in the spring. In the high water of 1893 the Press building, which stood on the east river bank on Pearl St., was flooded to the second story and was obliged to bring a newspaper press by special train from Detroit and set up a temporary publishing plant on S. Division. The Herald, which was a block from the river, was forced to employ steamers from the fire department to keep the basement of its building free from water.

In spite of its nearly half a century of service the old hotel building is still sound, revealed as the razing proceeds. Its timbers placed when timber was cheap and of excellent quality have withstood the ravages of the passing years and its brick walls are as solid as when first put up. But the needs of the Press compel other uses of the property, and the old structure must bow to the modernization along E. Fulton St.

Excerpted from the Grand Rapids Press, August 1, 1934, p. 15.

Posted August 20, 2014

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