Start thinking of ways to celebrate, maybe with masks and distancing if the Covid threat continues.
Turns out that Osawatome’s Memorial Hall is not the only county building marking a centennial in 2021. Paola’s Jackson Hotel is, too!
The birthday parties, if they happen, will probably be as different as the buildings themselves. The Hall is a public place, municipally owned. The Hotel is privately owned but open to the public for dining. The two buildings are related in that both were designed by George P. Washburn, famed Ottawa architect.
I told you earlier about the history of the Hall, and now I want to share a bit about the other celebrant. The Jackson is on the National Register of Historic Places, recognized for its age, design and role in the history of the area.
It is the third building to sit at its present location — 139 West Peoria. It follows the Union Hotel, built there in 1863 and later called Reed’s Hotel. That was 20 years later when Barney Reed purchased the building to enhance his livery holdings to the east. He sold it in 1897, and it became the LaClede Hotel.
Mrs. Lucy Jackson eventually bought the old frame building and, in 1921, replaced most of it (retaining part of a back wall) with a new 50-room (with baths) brick hotel containing sitting rooms, library and a dining room. She installed steam heat and electrical lighting.
This luxurious building was a Paola showpiece and the temporary lodging for any celebrity visiting the area. Roy Rogers and Gabby Hayes, western movie stars, were lodged there when they visited in September, 1940, for the premiere of their new film, “Colorado,” featured at the opening of “The Paola” theater. The famed Glass Door Restaurant opened there in 1979 when growing Paola boasted a population of 4,676.
Those glory days did not last. Harley Keeton purchased both the Commercial and the Jackson Hotels in 1964. When he razed the Commercial, the Jackson was the only hotel in town. Conditions worsened and the building was vacated.
In 1992, city officials ordered that it be razed or renovated. Kevin and Shannon Barbour bought it a year later and began needed repairs. The plan for restoration continued when Lakewood Properties took over in 2006.
Redesigning the building according to its original floor plan, the Bradley brothers of Lakewood recognized the historic value of the building. In 2008, they submitted an application for it to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. That was approved and the building was noted as being of the “Commercial style” of architecture with its block form and multi-story height and one-story full-length porch.
There still were no other hotels in Paola at the time of application. The Skyline Motel still stood and construction had begun on the new Best Western, now Paola Inn and Suites. The Jackson promised to be a force in maintaining the integrity of the downtown area.
Again, plans bogged down and the building remained vacant until Gary and Diana Hink purchased the property in 2012, creating loft-style apartments on each of the upper floors with energy efficient, modern fixtures. They removed a small building to the south to make room for parking and a possible courtyard. That building had been the laundry for the original hotels.
Today, the hotel is used as an apartment lodging and as a restaurant, the Cafe Latte at the Jackson. The cafe offers breakfast and lunch fare as well as an assortment of house-made pastries. The adjoining boutique offers clothing and unusual items for collecting and gift-giving at affordable prices. The fine old woods and restored tin ceiling remind patrons that they are in an historic setting.
The Jackson is still a place of luxury with a “party-feeling” all the time.