Abandoned hotel in Ohio

Hotel Harding, Marion Ohio
Date added: March 10, 2023 Categories:
North Elevation (1979)

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The Hotel Harding is a good local example of the Renaissance Revival style of architecture because of its massing, styling, and detailing; this style is typical of that used in the grand hotels of the early twentieth century. The facade treatment with cut stone plinths, columns, spandrels, window surrounds, capitals, and parapet entablatures make this a good example of this style. The interior lobby treatment with marble floors and Corinthian columns accentuates the grand design of the building and the elegance that it was designed to reflect. The building also has ties to President Warren G. Harding, who lived in Marion and campaigned for President from this town. The hotel was designed to accommodate the many visitors to the town because of the President. An eight-story building, this must have been quite a landmark on the town when it was built because most other buildings in the town are still only two or three stories high. The large size was made possible by a building and industrial boom in Marion at this time; the boom was caused by the expansion of both the Huber Manufacturing Company and Marion Power Steam Shovel Company, and the first gas-electric power shovel (developed by Marion Steam Shovel Company) was used on this building when the foundation was dug.

Marton boomed while Warren Harding was running for President because the candidate kept a low profile, campaigning from the front porch of his home here to reflect his views on rural middle America. People had to come to Marion if they wanted to see Harding, and this put a great strain on hotels in the city. Many thought that the available lodgings were not suited to people as famous as Harvey Firestone, Thomas Edison, and Henry Ford, and these men stayed at "King's Mansion" on Mt. Vernon Avenue, down the street from Harding's home. President Harding's brother-in-law, R.T. Lewis, helped form The New Hotel Co. to develop a new hotel to accommodate these visitors. William Earl Russ of Indianapolis, Indiana was selected as the architect for the 146-room 8-story structure. Ground was broken May 3rd, 1922 by B.J. Gonssowski, excavators from Bucyrus, Ohio, using the first gas-electric power shovel developed by Marion Steam Shovel Co. Mr. George King, a friend of Harding's who owned "King's Mansion", owned the Marion Steam Shovel Co. The hotel cost $750,000 to build.

The hotel opened on February 1st, 1924, with Dr. George T. Harding, the late President's father, the first to register. An estimated 7000 people attended the formal opening banquet and gala ball the next day. The dining rooms featured wall murals depicting scenes of Washington, D.C. during Harding's term of office. Although Harding did not live to see the hotel completed, Presidents Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover and Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Hughes stayed here.

The Hotel Harding is now a key factor in the proposed downtown revitalization programs for Marion. It has been vacant for many years, but it is now to be converted to shops, boutiques, restaurants, and a major commercial center. President Harding always maintained close contacts with local affairs while in Washington and was often known to give his opinions on local zoning matters to City council members, so it seems appropriate that this building will be an important part of the downtown plans.

Building Description

The Hotel Harding is an excellent example of the Renaissance Revival style of architecture. It was Marion's first eight-story building. This reinforced concrete pan frame building was built in 1924. It is faced with dark brown brick in running bond pattern.

The first, second, third, and eighth floors of the primary elevations show highly-skilled, hand-crafted cut stone plinth, columns, spandrels, window surrounds, capitals, and decorated parapet entablatures. First-floor windows and secondary doors are set in pediment and segmented pediment decorative trim while the main entry double doors have broken segmented pediment decorative trim. All windows and doors are single glazed wood with windows on the first and second floors casement (opening to the inside) and all others double-hung. Third-floor windows are further emphasized with a decorative wrought iron railing that features a singular "H" logo that is pronounced throughout the building.

Unlike the exterior, the interior has been severely scarred by vandals and water damage, but many fine features remain. The most distinctive architectural features are on the first and second floors. The main two-story lobby has a fine hand-carved walnut woodwork. Wood-sheathed columns with Corinthian capitals form the central lobby space.

The floor is of Tennessee marble, the same marble originally used for the front desk countertop. The ceilings and second floor facing is lead and oil ornamental plaster molding which also incorporates the "H" logo. The second-floor balcony looks over the main lobby and has the same features as the first floor plus an ornate wrought iron railing between the columns. Originally, much of the ornamentation was highlighted with an antique gold finish. The dining room and ballroom also have the ornamental plaster moldings on the ceiling and wall, and the floors are polished terrazzo. The remainder of the building is predominately bedroom/bath areas that originally had carpeted floors and plaster walls and ceilings.

The building has had three additions since its initial construction. Employee lockers and restrooms were added over the two-story stair shaft on the southeast corner, a one-story food storage/warehouse was added on the southwest corner, and the roof area to the north of the ballroom on the east was enclosed for expanded ballroom space.

Hotel Harding, Marion Ohio North Elevation (1979)
North Elevation (1979)

Hotel Harding, Marion Ohio South and West Elevations  (1979)
South and West Elevations (1979)

Hotel Harding, Marion Ohio East Elevation (1979)
East Elevation (1979)

Hotel Harding, Marion Ohio South and East Elevations (1979)
South and East Elevations (1979)

Hotel Harding, Marion Ohio Main Entry of Hotel Lobby seen from second floor balcony (1979)
Main Entry of Hotel Lobby seen from second floor balcony (1979)

Hotel Harding, Marion Ohio Hotel Lobby Front Desk (1979)
Hotel Lobby Front Desk (1979)

Hotel Harding, Marion Ohio Second Floor Balcony and Ceiling (1979)
Second Floor Balcony and Ceiling (1979)

Hotel Harding, Marion Ohio Hotel Lobby Column Capital seen from Second Floor Balcony (1979)
Hotel Lobby Column Capital seen from Second Floor Balcony (1979)

Hotel Harding, Marion Ohio Ceiling Detail in South Ballroom (1979)
Ceiling Detail in South Ballroom (1979)