The Colonial Hotel, now called the Residence Inn, is located on Prospect Avenue next to Cleveland’s historic East 4th Street. The hotel was built in 1898 in combination with the Colonial Arcade by designer George H. Smith, who was also the architect of “The Arcade,” Cleveland’s more famous shopping street under glass which was built in 1890. The Colonial Hotel opened on October 21, 1898, with an informal ceremony, which was attributed to the fact that it opened a day earlier than scheduled. The Colonial Arcade, however, was not fully complete until 1911, when John F. Rust hired architect Franz Warner. Warner was able to design an adjacent arcade that would link the William and Rodgers buildings on Euclid Avenue (one block to the north) with the Colonial Hotel, thus creating the Euclid Arcade. Today the interconnected Colonial and Euclid Arcades are known together as the 5th Street Arcades.
Within a year after opening, the hotel was already being improved with the addition of a 100-room wing on the Prospect Avenue side and parallel to the Colonial Arcade. Another expansion occurred in 1901, adding nearly one hundred rooms and expanding the hotel’s restaurant. The hotel during this period occupied a considerable amount of property on the Euclid side of the street, but the side facing Prospect Avenue was shallow in comparison. With this enlargement, the Colonial Hotel would be one of the largest hotels in the city. This renovation was started so the Colonial could keep up with the accommodations and luxuries that other hotels in the city were offering. In fact, it was speculated that the Colonial only decided to attempt this expansion to keep pace with the Hollenden Hotel, which, at this period, was one of the most luxurious hotels in the city.
In the 1930s, however, during the Great Depression, Cleveland’s unemployment rate rose to encompass nearly a third of its population, which impacted the hotel industry drastically. The Colonial dealt with this problem rather well, and in fact, some of their only concerns were simply competing with other hotels in Cleveland and attempting to attract more patrons with fresh new ideas and amenities.
Though the Colonial had survived the worst economic period in the nation’s history, the hotel eventually began to decline in later years as Cleveland took a turn for the worse. This occurred in the 1970s and the 1980s, a time when Cleveland lost close to twenty-five percent of its entire population. By 1975, Cleveland stood in the nation’s highest quintile among cities in terms of poverty, unemployment, poor housing, violent crime, and municipal debt. The Colonial Hotel also felt this pressure, first by changing ownership to the Milner Hotel Company, which was based in Detroit, Michigan. This transfer was all the Colonial could do to keep alive during this tough economic time. After this exchange, things seemingly got worse for the Colonial. The Colonial kept getting devastatingly bad luck, which reflected in the Plain Dealer, most notable being two deaths that occurred within five years of each other. The first death being Dan Duffy, a popular lawyer in Cleveland and a beloved patron to the Colonial Hotel. The second death was a John B. Caduff, whom tragically died in a fire, caused by Caduff carelessly smoking. Finally, however, to finish off these hard economic times, the Colonial Hotel closed in 1978.
This was not the end of the Colonial Hotel, however. Twenty years after the hotel's closing, an idea to re-open the hotel came into the minds of businessmen as part of broader attempts to preserve and revitalize Cleveland’s historic downtown area. This project finally got underway in 1998, when investors partnered with Marriott, a thriving hotel company, and wanted to open a Residence Inn in the former Colonial Hotel. The project would not only put a new hotel in the heart of downtown, it would also revitalize the Cleveland arcades. This eventually led to a $30 million project to renovate the space into extended stay lodging with 144 rooms of a Marriott Residence Inn and nearly 60,000 square feet of shopping. This hotel eventually opened in 2000 and would thrive amid a reemerging entertainment district.