Consider it addition through subtraction as the Newcomerstown community saw the beginning of the removal of an eyesore Wednesday afternoon that will allow needed parking for several local organizations.
The four-story Cooley Hotel on Canal Street in Newcomerstown was to be brought to the ground Wednesday by the company "Wreck It Rich" with TR Construction, Inc. in charge of the whole demolition project. While the hotel was considered for several developmental ideas over the years, it had actually never been used after being built in the 1920’s.
The demolition brought a small crowd of onlookers to the location as area residents and others wanted to be on hand to witness the implosion of the structure. While no explosives were used in the implosion, the demolition nevertheless created clouds of dust, which was kept under control by being hosed down while it was coming down. The steel girders creaked and moaned as they were twisted out of the building by the construction equipment.
As of 5 p.m., much of the framework, but not much of the brick, was left on the building. Workers were scheduled to be back on site on Thursday morning to complete the project.
Don Fenton of Newcomerstown was one of those on hand, noting that he is two years younger than the Cooley Hotel, which was built in 1929.
"It’s been here ever since I can remember," he said.
Vane Scott of the Newcomerstown Historical Society noted that the removal of the building will offer a much cleaner view of the historic Eureka-Orme Hardware Store, which has been in business in Newcomerstown since the canal days.
Newcomerstown Mayor Pat Cadle said getting rid of the four-story eyesore will benefit the entire community.
"The removal of the Cooley Hotel will allow more parking for the Temperance Tavern and Olde Main Street Museums, the First Baptist Church, the American Legion, and provide more parking for the Cy Young Festival downtown," Mayor Cadle said.
"This removes an eyesore and safety problem from our village. The demolition was made possible through the joint cooperative effort of those same organizations working together with Denny Ross, Little and Sons Tree Service, TR Construction, Wreck it Rich, and the Village of Newcomerstown. It really is a display of what can be accomplished when we work together."
Mayor Cadle said the process was able to get started when the building was donated to the Newcomerstown Historical Society by the owner, David Kinsey.
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.)