Filed Under Businesses

Hotel Cleveland

Shaped like an "E" opening onto Superior Avenue, the 1,000-room Hotel Cleveland was built in 1918 by the Van Sweringen brothers on the corner of Superior and Public Square. The hotel was built long before the construction of the adjacent Cleveland Union Terminal (dedicated in 1930). The site where the new Hotel Cleveland was built already had a long and proud history of lodging and hospitality. A popular tavern and hotel had existed on this site since 1812. The older structure was destroyed by a fire in 1840, but was rebuilt that same year.

The former structure had at various times been called the Forest City House and the Cleveland Hotel. By 1915, the old building was run down. In an attempt to revitalize the Public Square area, investors closed the old hotel and built a new 1,000-room Hotel Cleveland at a cost of $4.5 million. The Van Sweringen brothers purchased the hotel to make it part of their Cleveland Union Terminal complex in the 1920s. They reinforced the structure and dug a tunnel underneath the building to accommodate their rapid transit project. Subsequently, Hotel Cleveland became an integral part of the Union Terminal complex. The exterior of the hotel also served to balance the Terminal Tower building which was set at an angle on Public Square.

The fortunes of both the hotel and the Van Sweringen brothers diminished during the Great Depression. Whereas the Vans' empire fell apart, Hotel Cleveland and the Terminal Tower both survived the economic tempest. In 1958, the Sheraton chain acquired the hotel. The new owner promptly renamed the hotel the Sheraton-Cleveland and installed a new $5.2 million ballroom as part of its renovation. New owners and a new name did not guarantee success, however. The changing nature of Cleveland's downtown -- transitioning from a retail focus toward offices and services -- soon began to take its toll, causing the hotel to falter during the 1960s.

The hotel kept up its tradition of changing names and owners. Beginning in 1978, and managed by Stouffer Corp., the refurbished hotel reopened as Stouffer's Inn on the Square. In 1989, anticipating the opening of a new shopping mall in the old Terminal concourses, it was renamed the Stouffer-Tower City Plaza. Only four years later, in 1993, the hotel changed hands yet again. Purchased by Renaissance International, it became known as the Stouffer Renaissance Cleveland Hotel. In early 1996, the hotel dropped the Stouffer affiliation and became simply the Renaissance Cleveland.

Images

Before the Terminal Tower The Hotel Cleveland design was later incorporated into the plans for the Terminal Tower complex. The Terminal Tower itself would be set back from the street and allow for a portico to create a public space between the hotel and the tower, depot and stores. Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University Library Special Collections
Forest City House Engraving, 1876 Forest City House was a hotel located on the corner of Superior and Monumental Park in Cleveland, Ohio. The structure was later replaced with the new Hotel Cleveland building. Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University Library Special Collections
First Guest Signs In The first in a long line of guests to take advantage of the 1,000 room Hotel Cleveland signs his name. The facility built in 1918 was but one of a number of hotels to occupy the space at Public Square. Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University Library Special Collections
Opening Night The Hotel Cleveland opened on December 16, 1918. The occasion was celebrated with a party in the hotel ballroom. Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University Library Special Collections
Reservations Required The Hotel Cleveland was immensely popular for a time, not least because of the convenience of its downtown location. Access to the train station and to the multiple businesses and restaurants in the area made the hotel ideal for groups, meetings and individuals. Due to its popularity, reservations were required to ensure the availability of a room. Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University Library Special Collections
An Iconic Image Images of the Hotel Cleveland with surrounding shops and the Terminal Tower became both popular keepsakes and a favorite way to share thoughts with family and friends on postcards. Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University Library Special Collections
A Luxurious Lobby The lobby of the Hotel Cleveland also became an image used in postcards. The interior design and fine furnishings created an atmosphere of luxury for visitors. Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University Library Special Collections
Hotel Cleveland Lit Up A nighttime approach from the west side sometimes made the Terminal Tower look like it was floating in the air near the Hotel Cleveland sign. Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University Library Special Collections
Hotel Cleveland Billboards Advertisements for Hotel Cleveland could be seen throughout the area. Its central location meant that it was easily accessible from both sides of town. Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University Library Special Collections
Sheraton Ballroom The Sheraton-Cleveland added a large ballroom to expand its capacity to host conventions and other large events. The hotel announced this addition in 1959 on the eve of a referendum on spending $6 million of public funds to attract a major competing Hilton hotel to a location on the Mall. The referendum failed, and Sheraton-Cleveland opened the ballroom in the early 1960s, preserving its leading position among downtown hotels. Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University Library Special Collections Creator: Wilbur Evans Co.
Kon Tiki Restaurant Located in the Sheraton-Cleveland Hotel, Kon Tiki Restaurant, according to this postcard, offered "exotic food and tropical drinks from the blue Pacific Islands." Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University Library Special Collections Creator: Stephen Crane Associates

Location

24 Public Square, Cleveland, OH 44113

Metadata

Lisa Alleman and F.X. O'Grady, “Hotel Cleveland,” Cleveland Historical, accessed August 15, 2022, https://clevelandhistorical.org/index.php/items/show/465.