25 years is never too late

The Hotel Marquette is seen in a photo taken around 1890. (Photo courtesy of the Marquette Regional History Center)

MARQUETTE — The Hotel Marquette was located on Front Street between Rock and Fisher, where Auto Armor is now located. It was originally opened as the Mesnard House in 1883.

After an addition was built in 1888, the hotel had 100 rooms and in 1891 the name changed to the Hotel Marquette. The hotel was known throughout the Midwest for its excellent food.

At 6 a.m. on the morning of Sunday, Nov. 9, 1930, the night bellboy discovered a fire in the basement. There were 28 guests who all safely evacuated the building, some being rescued by firemen who assisted them down ladders and fire escapes. The owner, John H. Lewis, known as “Choppy,” who was an invalid, was carried out of the hotel and taken to St. Mary’s hospital.

The hotel, valued at $125,000, was completely destroyed in the fire. Despite being partially covered by insurance, it never reopened. After the site sat vacant for several years, T.O. Pechauer, built the Pechauer Deluxe Standard Service Station which opened in September 1939.

But 25 years later, a relic from the lost hotel showed up unexpectedly. On July 20, 1955, Postmaster John S. Courtney found the key to Room 234 in one of the mail pouches received at the Marquette post office. Someone had forgotten to turn the key in when they checked out of the hotel, so they dropped it in the mail box, trusting that the key would be delivered to the hotel listed on the key’s tag.

The Hotel Marquette is pictured engulfed in flame, on Nov. 9, 1930. Below is a photo of the key that was found decades after the fire. (Photo courtesy of the Marquette Regional History Center)

Since the key obviously couldn’t be returned, it was donated to the Marquette County Historical Society (now the Marquette Regional History Center) where it became part of the permanent collection. The key and 99 other artifacts are part of the History Center’s current exhibit: “100 Artifacts” which runs May 26–Sept. 1.

Come celebrate the history center’s 100th anniversary, by exploring these artifacts ranging from an historic birch bark canoe model to a vintage hat or two, to a beautiful Victorian era crazy quilt and much more. You never know what fascinating story these objects may hold.

A key from the Hotel Marquette is shown. (Photo courtesy of the Marquette Regional History Center)