The following is taken from "Ilion 1852-1952." We thank the Mayor and other officials of Ilion for granting us permission to provide this information to our visitors.


The taverns in Ilion's early history were usually farmhouses. The weary traveller, be he on horseback, in coach, or on foot, could count on refuge in one out of four homes he approached. The Checkered Tavern was host to the travelling public from about 1780 until at least 1850. Standing in the woods, it faced south on property which is now 269 E. State Street. At that time the main road lay farther north than at present avoiding marshland. The name of the tavern came from a checkered pattern on its barn. The tavern was well equipped to provide water for man and beast for there were a well, cistern, and spring water brought by pump logs from the hill south of the canal. A boat station and dock for the canal, its two barns, and a blacksmith shop provided care for tow horses and mules during the Erie Canal years. Changes of ownership were numerous until it burned. When renovations were made in the present house on the site, vivid reminders of a day long past were unearthed; an old cellar wall 3' thick, melted glass and coins, arrowheads, blackened kettles and bushels of clam shells.


Two houses that were once taverns remain intact today; 243 W. Main Street, known formerly as the Waldo House and 257 W. Main now known as West End Grocery. The former was known as the London Hotel, which was in existance before the construction of the Erie Canal. A distillery near the premises assured the prosperity of the establishment. Other claims place the Lonodon Hotel at 257 W. Main St. This house was built when the canal was being cnstructed primarily for a store, but was used as a tavern as well.

Fulfilling a public necessity as they did, the early taverns could not have evoked the just pride the Villagers had in the Osgood Hotel. It was built on the western corner of Otsego and Main by Eliphalet Remington in 1852, a three story brick structure, 60' x 90' with two wings. The Mansard added a fourth story in 1890. The Hotel housed fifty sleeping apartments besides the many other rooms allocated to a first class establishment of its kind. It was supplied with water, running to all rooms, from a spring on a hill, one-half mile distant. Its excellent cuisine merited its wide reputation. In 1870 it was sold for $40,000 and, with change of ownership in 1875, the big square pillars in front were cut away, creating a new arched entrance. It was known as The Briggs Hotel and Hotel Gammond until 1894, when it was again known as the Osgood House. At this time the old veranda was removed, and the flower bed and railing eliminated the gathering place of loiterers. It was sold at auction in 1888 for $10,000. It was a most successfully managed establishment as a Temperance hotel until in 1901, a bar was added, in keeping with the times. At this time the "New Hotel Osgood" underwent extensive alteration, including "modern" refrigeration, steam heat, a rathskeller, bowling alleys, billiards, barber shop, etc. A telephone had been installed a few years before and now it also boasted electricity, including two hundred lamps and an electrically operated eight passenger elevator to the fourth floor. Its spacious dining room was the scene of all public dinners. Guests were driven to and from the depot in a yellow round-bodied bus, resembling a gigantic pumpkin, bearing the lettering "New Osgood ." After World War I a period of decline was a forewarning of its impending doom. In 1922 a part was torn down for the building of the Manufacturers National Bank. The remaining space is now occupied by a restaurant, a store, offices and apartments.

The U. S. Hotel in the gorge, opposite the old Remington home was frequented by Ilionites and out of town guests in the 1850's. People from as far as New York City were escorted from the depot by a coach drawn by four horses. A ballroom on the third floor of the hotel provided a social gathering place after the guests had refreshed themselves by hot or cold sulphur baths in tin tubs in the six bath houses in a separate building. In the summer--house guests drank the sulphur water from a spring by means of a tin cup chained there. The name of the hotel was changed in 1907 to "The Columbia Springs Health Home." Here in one of nature's loveliest spots, well to do Ilionites and others could take advantage of the "purer ozone" of the resort. It was finally torn down when prosperity vanished as the automobile replaced the coach.

Various other hotels attracted patronage thruout the early days. In 1876 the Central developed from a boarding house into lodgings of spacious proportions. The four stories fronted on both Railroad Street and the canal, with two entrances on Railroad Street, one for general business, the other for ladies and families. It was "gotten up, furnished and kept in a neat, tasty, and inviting manner." In 1910 the Central was known as the Hotel Williams. The Kinne Hotel, also called the American House, was located in the Harter block on First Street before the building was removed for the erection of the present post office. The White Hotel stood where the Cosman block and Best Hardware now stand.

Otsego House goes back at least to Civil War days and for nearly 100 years has catered to the public of Ilion. Hotel Ilion was started in 1890 by George N. Caswell who managed the hotel in Cedarville and the Waverly in Herkimer. It's name was changed to Hotel Ilion in 1910. For many years the residence on the corner of E. Clark and Railroad Streets had been a rooming and boarding house, first under Mrs. Charlotte Jones, next under Mr. and Mrs. Hunt. In 1893 it was bought by Patrick Flahaven who in 1896 extended it to the sidewalk with a three story addition.

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Created 5/23/02
Copyright © 2002 Paul McLaughlin/ Judy Breedlove/ Martha S. Magill
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