Circa 1891 Ohio Hotel and Ballroom Building Gets Renovated-Abandoned Fort Piqua Hotel Becomes Fort Piqua Plaza & Library

Fort Piqua Hotel - Before renovation

This is the front, right at the beginning of the restoration
This is the front, right at the beginning of the restoration
Front entrance--see the balcony above the doors
Front entrance--see the balcony above the doors

Restoration complete--now the Fort Piqua Plaza

Front view of the Fort Piqua Plaza after renovation
Front view of the Fort Piqua Plaza after renovation

Fort Piqua Hotel...in the beginning

For more than 20 years, the old Fort Piqua Hotel in Piqua, Ohio, sat abandoned in the center of downtown, boarded up and decaying. The hotel was once a grand luxury hotel, built in 1891, by prominent citizens of the city William Orr and Samuel Statler. It was constructed in the Richardson-Romanesque style, with 85,000 sq. feet, including 103 rooms and a ballroom on the 4th floor.

The interior...

The main lobby had an enormous fireplace, with a mezzanine overhead, and a stained-glass skylight above. As you walked past the fireplace, you come to the grand staircase, which swept up half a floor to a landing where more stained glass windows would glow in the midday sunlight. The stairs split and switched back at that point where they continued climbing to the second floor of the hotel.

This is a before shot of the lobby, showing the mezzanine(top left) and the fireplace
This is a before shot of the lobby, showing the mezzanine(top left) and the fireplace
This shows the lobby, after restoration.
This shows the lobby, after restoration.
The main staircase in ruins...
The main staircase in ruins...
The staircase, after being restored
The staircase, after being restored
This is from the second floor, looking down to the landing of the staircase.  This was in the middle of restoration.
This is from the second floor, looking down to the landing of the staircase. This was in the middle of restoration.
The landing, again, back to its original glory!
The landing, again, back to its original glory!
Shot from the landing, this shows how the staircase divided, and went on either side of the main staircase, up to the second floor.
Shot from the landing, this shows how the staircase divided, and went on either side of the main staircase, up to the second floor.

The ballroom

 

The ballroom featured a vaulted two story ceiling, and floor to ceiling stained glass windows and mahogany woodwork graced the walls. There was also a musician's balcony, and a separate dining area for children.

The ballroom during restoration
The ballroom during restoration
The ballroom, now a banquet room/conference center
The ballroom, now a banquet room/conference center

The Exterior of the Fort Piqua Hotel


The exterior of the Fort Piqua Hotel is sandstone, and has a huge clock tower on the front right corner of the building. Sculpted gargoyle faces peer grotesquely down from the stone window sills all around the outside. Over the front entrance of the hotel is a balcony with wrought iron railings, where celebrities appeared before their adoring fans, and politicians would stand and speak to the people who gathered. Some who put in appearances through the years were Teddy Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Warren Harding, Harry Houdini, and John Philips Sousa.

Clock tower and Gargoyle face

Clock tower before restoration
Clock tower before restoration
Clock tower after
Clock tower after
Gargoyle face under the windowsill!
Gargoyle face under the windowsill!

More background on the Fort Piqua Hotel

 

During Prohibition, the hotel was used for the meetings of the local Women's Christian Temperance Union. Ironically, after Prohibition, it became the first business in the city to open a bar.

In 1947, the NAACP staged a sit-in at a lunch counter at the hotel, ending, once and for all, Piqua's restaurant segregation policies.

Due to the small size of the city, though, the hotel struggled to stay afloat financially. It changed owners many times, and many changes in the hotel itself were made, but nothing was successful for any length of time.

By the 1970's, it had been reduced to a hotel for transients, and also a bus depot. But soon it became vacant and in a severe state of disrepair, and it was boarded up and closed for good in 1987. For the next couple of decades, it sat empty and unused, a dismal shadow of its former elegance and grace.

Finally, decisions are made...

 

In the first half of the 2000's, while everything else in the city was being improved during a revitalization project, it was finally decided to do something about this empty hazardous structure. Using Federal and state grants, tax credits, city funds, and almost $4 million in private donations--approximately $20 million in all--the plans were finalized. The dollar amount from private donations in itself was staggering, considering Piqua has a population of only around 20,000 people.

The city's library was going to become the main tenant for three floors in this building, as it had outgrown its present site. Also planned was a banquet/conference center in the old ballroom/dining room on the 4th floor, and a coffee shop and restaurant on either side of the first floor of the library. Scattered throughout the building were also going to be other meeting rooms, a "President's Room", remembering past presidential visits, a "Veteran's Room", where they would have military exhibits and presentations.

A few more photos of the changes

This is a photo of one of the two 100+ year old sconces that are on either side of the fireplace, before restoration.
This is a photo of one of the two 100+ year old sconces that are on either side of the fireplace, before restoration.
This shows the sconces, after they were restored.
This shows the sconces, after they were restored.
To the right of the fireplace hangs an enormous mirror--this shows the damage of one corner of it, before restoration.
To the right of the fireplace hangs an enormous mirror--this shows the damage of one corner of it, before restoration.
This shows the part of the mirror afterwards--it goes all the way to the floor, but they have a piano sitting in front of it, so you can't see all of it.
This shows the part of the mirror afterwards--it goes all the way to the floor, but they have a piano sitting in front of it, so you can't see all of it.

In 2008, the Fort Piqua Plaza is opened...

The building was restored, as much as possible, to its original condition. Where original paint or design was found, the workers stayed faithful to it. The old fireplace and staircase, along with the stained glass windows and magnificent chandelier in the ballroom were all restored to their original beauty. There is no sign that this was, for many years, forgotten about and left to crumble...

The construction project began in January of 2007, and was finished in October of 2008. The Fort Piqua Hotel was re-christened Fort Piqua Plaza, and approximately 1000 people attended the Grand Opening on October 19th of that year. Residents of Piqua can be proud of the work done on this building, and thankful that the city leaders decided to restore it, and not demolish it, as some had suggested at the time of the decision making.

I for one am thrilled to be a resident of Piqua, and to have been able to go to this building several times since it's reopened. It's hard to describe how beautiful this place really is, and I invite everyone to come and take a tour through this...you won't be disappointed.

Fort Piqua Plaza, in all its glory

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Comments 7 comments

ralwus 6 years ago

Wonderful hub Tam. I really enjoyed the tour. Thanks. much love cuz. Charlie xox


Tom Cornett profile image

Tom Cornett 6 years ago from Ohio

You did a great job on this Hub....what once was an eye sore....now is a beautiful building. :)


alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 6 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

Wow...what a beautiful hotel. I love old buildings...and love it more when I see them restored. Thanks for a great hub, Tammy


TamCor profile image

TamCor 6 years ago from Ohio Author

Thanks Charlie--Glad you liked it...come see it in person sometime!

Tom--Thanks sweetie...:)


TamCor profile image

TamCor 6 years ago from Ohio Author

Thank you, Nancy!!! I love old places, too, and was thrilled to do a hub about this one! :)


reddog1027 profile image

reddog1027 6 years ago from Atlanta, GA

I always like the stories about the old and abandoned buildings being restored. Thanks for the tour.


TamCor profile image

TamCor 6 years ago from Ohio Author

reddog-You're welcome--thanks for visiting! :)

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