If a successful event can be known as "bringing down the house," then bringing down a four-story hotel building near downtown Newcomerstown will be a true party.
The Cooley Hotel is scheduled to be imploded on Sept. 11, according to Joe Riley, president and CEO of TR Construction, Inc., who was on site Tuesday afternoon with a crew making preparations for the demolition. The hotel, located on Canal Street between the Temperance Tavern Museum and Canal River Auto Sales, has been vacant since the day it was the idea of a developer’s eye some 90 years ago.
In the spring of 1929, John Cooley, who operated the Fountain Hotel in Newcomerstown, announced plans to build a modern four-story hotel in town.
Jon Baker of The Times-Reporter wrote an historical feature about Cooley in May of this year and quoted an article from The Newcomerstown News in 1929.
"Mr. and Mrs. Cooley have conducted a successful hotel business here for many years, and are to be commended for their enterprise in deciding to erect and operate a modern hotel which will fill a long-felt need."
That summer, work began on the hotel, located on W. Canal Street. It was supposed to have 44 sleeping rooms, a barbershop, laundry, coffee shop, public and private dining rooms, kitchen and public toilets. Seventeen of the rooms were to contain private baths and 24 rooms would have running water. The rooms on the first floor were to have a terrazzo floor finish.
Unfortunately, Cooley ran into financial problems, and construction was abandoned on the half-finished structure. In recent years, village officials have been discussing tearing down the old hotel building, which has become an eyesore.
Cooley retired from the hotel business in 1935. He sold the Fountain Hotel to the Darrell O. Beiter Post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in June 1946. The VFW met there for 10 years until the building was condemned by the state in 1957 and torn down.
Cooley died in May 1950 at age 83.
Newcomerstown Mayor Patrick Cadle recently gave a report to village council, and according to the report, several local establishments are contributing to the cost, and donating their time, or equipment for the demolition, including the Newcomerstown Historical Society, the Baptist Church, American Legion and Little’s Tree Service. It was reported that the cost for the fill-in of the structure’s basement foundation is $38,000.
The building demolition is planned via implosion, not with use of any explosives, but with use of a special technique of cutting into the structure layer by layer until it slowly collapses in a straight downward fashion. The village reports that they will be recommending anyone within a two block radius to take precautions due to an extensive amount of dust that will be created from the implosion.
Once the site is filled-in and stabilized a parking lot will be constructed and utilized by the Newcomerstown Historical Society, the American Legion and the Baptist Church. Mayor Cadle also said the parking lot will be helpful during the annual Cy Young Festival.
(Jon Baker of The Times-Reporter and William Casteel, correspondent for The Newcomerstown News, contributed to this story.)