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Greetings From Elgin (1975)

The Kelley Hotel

 

While there were many opulent hotels in Elgin, none was quite so elegant as The Kelley. Built in 1887 and 1888 by Captain Leverett M. Kelley, a Civil War Veteran, the Kelley was a three-story brick veneer building on Grove Avenue. The first floor of the building was primarily stores, but the 30 rooms upstairs were exquisitely laid out. Each room featured steam heat and the hotel was equipped with a barbershop, public bathrooms and a saloon. Rooms rented between $2.00 and $2.50 per day and were the choice of many traveling salesmen, theatre troops performing next store at the Du Bois Opera House and visitors for the Elgin Road Races.

By 1901, Frank Lasher would purchase the hotel from Kelley. One of the Lasher's improvements was a luxurious saloon which he opened in 1889. Patrons gained entrance through swinging doors off the lobby. Once inside, the patrons were treated to a massive establishment with large paintings on the walls. Decorum of the hotel was maintained by not tolerating any type of public intoxication. During the Vaudeville days, a buzzer would announce the next act and the patrons would line up in the theatre lobby.

In 1906, The Kelley added a large restaurant, run by Frank and Lynde McGill. It was the largest eating establishment in Elgin and featured a live orchestra, carnation souvenirs and its own bakery. The restaurant employed 50, seated 325 and was open 24 hours a day. Patrons could either eat at the counter, the cafeteria or the dining room. They referred to this as "three-way" service.

The hotel was closed in 1971 and eventually burnt down in a fire in 1972.

        

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