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Lost History Of Columbus: Hotel Fort Hayes

Hotel Fort Hayes, a once-grand establishment, added a touch of elegance to West Spring Street before its demolition in the 1970s. This beautiful building, with its rich history and luxurious amenities, left a lasting impression on Columbus, and we’re here to celebrate its legacy.

A Jewel in Columbus

hotel fort hayes
Hotel Fort Hayes

The Hotel Fort Hayes opened its doors in 1924, quickly becoming a symbol of sophistication in Columbus. Named after the nearby military post, the hotel exuded a sense of stability and grandeur that attracted guests from all walks of life. Its architecture and decor were reminiscent of old European charm, making it a standout in the city’s skyline.

The Bernhardt Collection

One of the most captivating aspects of the Hotel Fort Hayes was its collection of art and furniture from the estate of Sarah Bernhardt, the renowned French stage actress. The hotel proudly displayed 40 of her treasured pieces, including intricate vases, statues, paintings, and carvings. These items, valued at $100,000 at the time (a cool $1.6 million today), added an unparalleled elegance to the hotel’s ambiance.

Luxurious Living

Hotel Fort Hayes advertisement
The hotel’s 303 rooms were designed to offer maximum comfort and convenience. Each room featured telephone service and a private bath, which was quite a luxury in the 1920s. Guests could also enjoy the English grill room for a quick lunch, or visit the bakery run by a Viennese chef for some delectable pastries.

The Famous Crystal Room

hotel fort hayes crystal ballroom
The Crystal Ballroom at Hotel Fort Hayes.

Dining at the Hotel Fort Hayes was an experience in itself. The Crystal Room, the hotel’s dining room and ballroom, was a favorite spot for both locals and visitors. Recognized as one of America’s finest restaurants, the Crystal Room was mentioned in Duncan Hines’ 1935 book, “Adventures in Good Eating.” Guests enjoyed meals accompanied by live orchestra music, adding a special touch to their dining experience.

Perfectly Positioned

Situated at 33 W Spring Street, the Hotel Fort Hayes boasted an enviable location. It was just a short walk from Union Station, the city’s railroad hub, making it incredibly convenient for travelers. The nearby business district, shops, and theaters meant that guests had easy access to everything they needed during their stay.

The End of an Era

hotel fort hayes
Hotels owned by Pick included both Hotel Fort Hayes and Hotel Chittenden.

Despite its historical significance and charm, the Hotel Fort Hayes couldn’t withstand the passage of time. By the 1970s, the hotel had become unprofitable. Nationwide Insurance, which had acquired the property, decided to demolish it in 1977 to make room for a 50-space parking lot. It was a bittersweet end for a building that had once been a beacon of luxury.

In a cruel twist of fate (for those of us who are always rooting for historic buildings), about 15 years after the hotel was demolished, a Marriott hotel was constructed on nearly the same spot.