the Oliver House opened its doors in 1859, Toledo, with a population
nearing ten thousand, was in the midst of progress. As a railroad center
and growing commercial metropolis, the city served as the county seat,
boasted a telegraph line, and had erected a bridge to span the Maumee
When commissioned by Major William Oliver, renowned architect Isaiah Rogers designed a first class modern hotel for “one of the most delightful portions of the city”. Located in the section of downtown referred to as the Middlegrounds, the hotel would have a main front overlooking a beautiful park with shade trees and private rooms that offered a view of the Maumee River. Famous for his palace hotel designs, Rogers also gained national recognition as Chief of the Bureau of Construction in the U.S. Treasury Department, a position appointed to him by President Lincoln.
The Magnificent grand opening dazzled citizens who viewed the new premier hotel in all it’s glory. Advertisements proudly announced the million and a quarter bricks that went into the construction and the 171 rooms each with its own fireplace, running water, and gas lighting. Beautiful furnishings such as rosewood chairs, a carved piano, and lace curtains decorated the interior of the Oliver House. Guests enjoyed all the finest luxuries, including an omnibus that transported travelers from the railroad station to the hotel. The menu was only of superior quality. An article in the Toledo Blade describes the food as a “crowning glory – possessing every imaginable dainty and achievement of modern cuisine”.
Unfortunately, by 1894 the comforts and conveniences of the newer hotels replaced the Oliver House’s status as the only first class hotel in Toledo. Hotels began to move closer to the downtown area, while manufacturing began to move into the Middlegrounds. The pressures from industries surrounding the hotel eventually forced the Oliver House to be reduced to a common rooming house.
In 1919, Edward N. Riddle bought the Oliver House and converted it into an industrial plant for the Riddle Co., manufacturers of lighting fixtures. The new plant required that the interior be totally gutted. The only remnants of the grand hotel were two ornamental marble mantels, some wallpaper, and a black walnut and ash floor in the lobby area. In 1947 the Oliver House changed owners again. Used for industrial purposes once more, it housed an axel manufacturer called Toledo Wheel & Rim. Twenty years later, in 1967, Successful Sales Co purchased the Oliver House, for show and storage of novelty items that the company sold. At this time, the building was also occupied by various small businesses.
Today, the Oliver House stands as the only remaining hotel designed by Isaiah Rogers. Happily, it has been returned to the public once again as a place of social activity and entertainment. After one hundred fifty years of wear to the building this most important landmark has been renovated to reflect its architectural as well as historical significance. This pre-Civil War hotel is now the home of the Maumee Bay Brewing Co., which produces craft ales, lagers, and Buckeye Beer, the trademark sizzle of Rockwell’s Steakhouse, the impeccable leisure of Rockwell’s Lounge, the home-brewed vibe of the Maumee Bay Brew Pub, a wonderful collection of beer memorabilia in the Toledo Brewing Hall of Fame & Museum, the classic European charm of Petit Fours Patisserie, the urban appeal of The Café, the Oliver House Events, offering unique banquet and private room venues, the food and fun of Mutz, plus townhouses, the South Wing gallery, and the entertainment of the North Coast Theatre.
It’s simply a great place to be – in a whole lot of old and new ways!
A Haunted Note:
The Oliver House served as a medical center for the wounded during the Spanish-American War and this historic hotel has a haunted reputation. Numerous apparitions have appeared to guests and diners over the years. The most common, is that of a soldier who has come to be known as “The Captain.” He is said to show up most frequently dressed in full uniform. Paranormal investigations and strange sightings are common here.
For more information call 419.243.1302
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