Monday, November 19, 2012

Hotels on the Summit Part II

For more than a century rich and influential families from all over the country spent their summers in residence at the various hotels that sprung up on the Kirtland Hills plateau known as Little Mountain.  They reached the summit via stagecoach from Mentor.  Some of the notable visitors were Cleveland's elite such as Jeptha H. Wade, John D. Rockefeller and Congressman (later President) James A. Garfield.  They came to Ohio's highest elevation, 1266 feet to witness a landscape of marvelous wildflowers such as Lady Slippers, Solomon Seal, Wintergreen, and the last forest of virgin Eastern White Pines west of the Allegheny Mountains.  The Lakeview House and the Stocking House were the first to appear.

The third hotel, the Little Mountain Eagle, was built in 1857 by William S. Gardner.  The main building was three stories high with two story wings on each side.  An observatory was located on the top of the section.  The Little Mountain Eagle House was primarily used by people taking the 'water cure'.  They boarded there seeking remedies from ailments of the times.  The Eagle, also known locally as the Gardner House did not last long in 19th century history.  It was in time closed down and became known as the 'Haunted House'.

The fourth and final hotel built on the summit was the Pinecrest Hotel.  It was constructed in the late 1880's by a company headed by C.A. Avery.  The Pinecrest Hotel was the most elegant and pretentious hotel on the 'summit'.  It was three stories, t-shaped and surrounded by a magnificent veranda.  Guest suites had individual baths attached, private balconies, open fireplaces, an electronic bell system, gas lighting, and elevators. A Rotunda, drawing room and state of the art fire plug hose system was in place.  Western Union Telegraph and Post Office Express stations were on site.  A laundry facility was another in-house perk.  Cottages lined the main building and were of various sizes to accommodate guest needs.  A house orchestra, billiards, bowling alleys, concert schedules and every amusement possible were provided.  A livery was maintained and countryside drives offered.

The Gilded Age of America had an everlasting impact on our country.  The 19-20th c. industrialists and businessmen who made America came to Lake County.  From Cleveland's elite who came to Little Mountain to America's early pioneers, some of whom began operations in Lake County, our county shared a chapter in America's Gilded Age.

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