The Clifton Hotel History

1831 – 1932

The original Clifton Hotel was built by Harmanus Crysler. Construction began in 1831 and it was completed in 1835.

The original hotel stood three stories high and contained 60 bedrooms.

During the American Civil War, it became a headquarters for a number of meetings between the combatants.

George Colborne operated the Clifton Hotel for 30 years until it was destroyed by fire on June 26th 1898. Mr. Colborne was in Philadelphia at the time of the fire and the hotel manager was W. L. Ormroe.

The fire started in a chimney of the boiler house near the roof of the hotel and traveled to the eves. Forty patrons escaped the fire and no one was injured. Flames fanned by the wind quickly spread throughout the hotel. The stone and rough cast building took the whole day to burn.

Following the destruction of the Clifton Hotel that burned in 1898, a decision was made to rebuild immediately. The second Clifton Hotel was not completed until 1905 and was situated on the same site as the old Clifton Hotel. It consisted of five stories & cost approximately $500,000 to build.

Some amenities of this grand hotel included:

  • The entrance rotunda contained a long distance phone, cable and telegraph office, a Union ticket office and a general information bureau. It contained parlours and writing rooms.
  • The hotel had a spacious ballroom. The Palm room was furnished with dainty chairs and tables.
  • The hotel had a billiard room with three tables. Windows in the billiard room provided a fine view of the Falls.
  • The hotel had 270 furnished sleeping rooms. Each room was equipped with electrical light and heat, hot and cold running water, telephones, electric bells and ample bath facilities.
  • There were also a number of private dining rooms, tea rooms and attractive cafes.

The second Clifton Hotel was destroyed by fire on December 31st 1932. The fire was discovered by hotel caretaker, James Jones, who was awoken by the barking of a police dog. The fire alarm was sounded at 7:50 a.m.

Frank A. Dudley, the secretary of the United Hotel Company estimated the hotel damage at $800,000 and the insurance coverage at $540,000.

The Clifton Hotel was never rebuilt. The property on which the Clifton Hotel had occupied was later purchased by Mr. Harry Oakes, and became the property for the Oakes Garden Theatre.

The Alexandria Hotel became known as the Clifton Hotel following the fire in 1932. The Alexandria was later torn down in 1964 to make way for the building of the motor hotel.

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