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Checking in at the Illinois Hotel PDF Print E-mail
Written by Buddy Johnson   
Thursday, 14 May 2009 06:00


- Beginning with this post Buddy Johnson joins www.okchistory.com as a regular contributor. Ties between Buddy Johnson and Steve Lackmeyer go back to high school days and the pair have an agreement to keep certain tales forever untold - a throwback to "mutally assured destruction" or "MAD."

The Illinois Hotel, 219 West Main, opened for business on August 23, 1902. The hotel was located on the north side of West Main about half way between Robinson and Harvey. It was very near the St. Louis & San Francisco Railroad (Frisco) passenger station - a short walk away at West First and Hudson - and yet was far enough away from the clatter and bustle associated with the busy rail station to offer a peaceful rest. Built by millionaire businessman W. T. Hales, this ornate four-story hotel was quite long and narrow, but it featured nearly 70 rooms plus a café and a barber shop on the first floor and full dining room in the basement. The hotel’s advertising promised first class service, steam heat, electric lights, an elevator, and free baths.  The hotel often changed management and in 1905, two men from Iowa, Thede and Zindel, transformed the Illinois into the Hotel Kross, a ‘first-class European hotel’. Their menu featured turtle soup, potatoes au dauphinoise, and other European treats and they featured ‘clear water’ for bathing. By 1912, Mary E. Parkinson assumed management and converted the building into largely hotel apartments under the new moniker Parkinson Hotel.  Although this photo gives the impression that many guests rode bicycles, the truth is that the Oklahoma Cycle Shop was located next door. In 1905 the S. H. Kress company built a three-story five-and-dime store where the bicycle shop was and about 1910, when the city was experiencing an economic boom, Kress took over the first floor of the Illinois. In 1914, Kress moved across the street to 218 West Main and the Illinois was occupied by the exclusive Brock Clothing store which later evolved into the John A. Brown department store. The building was demolished in 1975 to make way for a planned retail galleria which never materialized.  

- Reprinted by permission from "info," the official magazine of the Metropolitan Library System of Oklahoma County.

Read more about the Ilinois Hotel by visiting this article by Doug Loudenback at www.dougdawg.blogspot.com.