GREGORY HOUSE


The following article appeared in the Lyme Lines, Vol. 12, No. 2, Feb. 1985, page 4. Lyme Lines is the newsletter of Lyme Village, a complex of historical buildings near Bellevue in northwestern Huron County.

"FORMER NEW LONDON HOTEL ADDED TO NATIONAL REGISTER RECENTLY

The Gregory House in New London was added to the National Register of Historic Places during 1984.

Located at 1 East Main Street, the large, three story brick building was built in 1873 after a fire destroyed the original frame building, known as the American House, the preceding year.

Albert A. Powers was given the contract for putting up the new structure. Albert Perkins, with a team of horses, hauled the yellow brick from a kiln on the Huron-Ashland County Line Road.

One of the workers who wheeled the brick and mud for the walls was the father of Jay F. Laning, who later became a Congressman.

When the building was completed, the upper two stories were used as the Gregory Hotel. The proprietors were C.W. Gregory and Mr. Van Horn, who gave a party to celebrate the opening of their new hotel and the New Year of 1874.

The ground floor contained a dry goods store.

In 1875, since there was no fresh produce for sale nearby, the Gregory House had its own garden.

For a number of years the structure was known as the White Hotel, which was not always open.

In July, 1902 the local post office was moved into the first floor corner room.

In 1908 some of the crumbling foundation stones were replaced and the foundation generally repaired.

During the 1970's, the second floor of the former Gregory House was made over into apartments.

The Inn restaurant, Larry's Sports Shop, a laundromat and a dry cleaning establishment occupied the ground floor until recently.

From 1828, when the Holiday family came to Kingsley's Corner, as New London was known in early times, there has been a tavern on the northeast corner of Clarksfield and Rochester Streets, now known as North Main and East Main Streets.

It is said that Lorton Holiday started to erect a hotel, or tavern, on the site; that Peter Holiday finished it and then hired Lorton to manage it for him.

It faced the west and is referred to in old deeds as "Holidays Tavern."

This original structure may have been built of logs.

During the period encompassing the Civil War, a frame building was erected on the site and this was known as the American House. This is the building that burned during the wee morning hours of Sunday, Nov. 17, 1872.

A fire of unknown origin broke out in Dr. McClellan's store on the north side of Rochester Street and every building in the entire block, all being built of frame construction, were destroyed.

The lower floor of the hotel had contained Gregory and Van Horn's dry goods store, Dr. Rawson's dental office and the post office. There were living quarters on the second floor.

New London is admittedly out of the usual range of the "Lyme Lines," but we are always pleased to learn of any Huron County structure being admitted to the prestigious list known as the National Register of Historic Places.

The Gregory House has had a long and colorful existence and we hope it will stand for many long years to come.

--- Information from the History of New London, Ohio, by Helen R. Foskett."

The above article was dated 1985. The New London Inn and the other businesses in the old Gregory House building closed or moved to other locations in town. The late Barney Thomas, a former mayor of New London, started the Box Office Restaurant in the building. Much exterior and interior work was done to renovate the building along its original lines. Although the restaurant was well publicized in area newspapers, and they ran advertisement in Ohio Magazine and elsewhere, the customers did not come, and the restaurant went under, so to speak. Barney prepared a nice booklet on the history of the Gregory House corner which was given to the New London Area Historical Society. We (the Historical Society) moved our museum to the former News Centre location just east of the Gregory House about April 1st. We are still unpacking and I couldn't quite put my hands on the Gregory House story. It will be some months before we get everything organized again.

About two years ago, a local restaurant, "J Patrick's" moved into the Gregory House building, and they are becoming quite popular, bringing many visitors into town to eat dinner. There are several apartments on the second floor of the building. I think the third floor still needs quite a bit of work although I see lights up there from time to time.

As a side note, the construction photograph of the Gregory House in 1873, after the fire had leveled the block the year before, was owned by Mrs. Andrew Snyder east of New London. I'm not certain who has it now. My father copied it nearly 20 years ago and it has appeared in various publications. This is the earliest photograph we have of downtown New London to our knowledge. No view of the village has been located previous to the 1872 fire, although it is quite probable that photographs were taken. Norwalk, for example, has photographs that date to the 1850's. If any of you out in computer land have pre-1872 New London store building photographs in your family album and didn't realize that nobody here in New London had any, please send copies! Since none of us know what to look for, we would have to identify them by the store signs.

Tom Neel, Lyme Lines




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