The Cooley Hotel is a never completed hotel in Newcomerstown, Ohio. It used as a showroom and repair shop for farm machinery, office and manufacturing space for a canvas product company, and as a museum.

Construction on the four-story hotel began in late 1929 by John W. Cooley,2 who was the owner and operator of the Fountain Hotel on Bridge Street. The hotel was originally proposed at Bridge and Church streets, but a committee from the local Chamber of Commerce suggested a location along West Canal Street instead. Proposed inside were 44 sleeping rooms, coffee shop, a barber, kitchen, private dining rooms and public toilets. Seventeen of the rooms would contain private baths and 24 rooms featured running water.

The building cost $150,000 but was never finished after financial difficulties plagued Cooley.3 5 The hotel, sans minor construction details, was essentially completed by late 1930. On January 17, 1931, the unfinished building was sold at a sheriff’s sale to Charles Loader for $26,000; it was appraised at $39,000.4 Ownership was later passed into the hands of the First National Bank.3

In the July 1941 Elks magazine, an advertisement, taken out by Newcomerstown BPOE 1555, stated that the lodge is willing to purchase the building if a “practical hotel man” agrees to finance its completion and to manage it.3 The BPOE 1555 would occupy the top floor with the remainder of the building used as a lodge.

The prolonging of World War II caused a shortage of housing in Newcomerstown.6 On July 24, 1943, federal National Housing Agency proposed to finance the completion of the Cooley Hotel to house 30 employees of the Heller Bros. tool plant, who were having to travel long distances to work at the factory. Despite the assistance from the government, there was still 530 employees at Heller Bros. that needed shorter commutes. Gasoline and tire rations also added to the housing shortage. The closure of the war led to the project being abandoned.

On May 18, 1944, the unfinished hotel was sold to Clyde E. Schumaker, a sales and service representative for the John Deere Company.1 Schumaker planned to use the basement and first floor of the hotel for a showroom and for the repair of farm machinery, with the goal of finishing the upper three floors. In mid-1960, the building was used by Globe Specialities, makers of canvas products, and employed eight.5 Mid-Ohio Canvas operated the business in 1975 when it made the decision to relocate to Columbus.

The Newcomerstown Historical Society purchased the Cooley building in August 1976 to use as the Newcomerstown Cultural and Study Center adjacent to their Temperance Tavern Museum.5 7 The purchase was made possible through the generosity of Shannon Rodgers, a new York dress designer for Jerry Silverman. Rodgers also donated a collection of 500 antique gowns and dresses that were to be displayed in the Cooley building.

After years of vacancy, the Cooley Hotel – never used for its intended purpose, is slated for demolition in 2016.8

Sources