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BY MIKE AVITT
Although this photo isn’t identified, I feel certain this is owner George Bartow after he restored the old Mt. Ayr House in the early 1920s.
The hotel was located at 116 E. Madison. More about George in a minute.
The obituary of Frances Ellis says he established the Mount Ayr Hotel shortly after coming to Mt. Ayr in 1865. But, by 1880, Frances was proprietor of the Ellis House (hotel) at 109 E. Madison.
The owner of the Mt. Ayr House (Mt. Ayr Hotel) was John Currie at that time. Currie’s hotel was also known as the Currie House. An addition was built onto the Mt. Ayr House in 1891.
In 1903, John Currie’s sons, John Byrie and Kenneth, leased the Mt. Ayr House to T. W. Foley. In 1904, J. B. Currie sold the hotel to E. W. McDonald for $5,500. In 1907, McDonald leased the hotel to J. A. Logan. Mr. Logan returned the hotel to McDonald in 1910. Charles Bresee obtained the Mt. Ayr Hotel in late 1910.
Charles Murray bought the hotel in 1914 and leased it to Mr. and Mrs. J. N. Dalton. Fire struck the hotel in early January 1920. Apparently, no repairs were made as the hotel was condemned in February 1922. George Bartow traded for the hotel property in August 1923.
Mr. Bartow was an attorney and former Superintendent of Schools at Kellerton. Bartow set to work at once, and formal opening of the restored hotel took place on January 10, 1924. George Bartow sold the hotel to Mr. and Mrs. Art Holland in January 1929. Bartow died three weeks later. Eventually, Paul Evans would acquire the hotel.
Mabel Rice and her son Gary McCullough bought the Mt. Ayr Hotel from Paul Evans in March 1955. Mrs. Myron Horn was hired as manager. Marie Todd and Vena Arnold followed Mrs. Horn. Mr. and Mrs. Vic Thompson became the managers after Vena Arnold.
In August 1983, Mr. and Mrs. Brian Soland succeeded Vic Thompson as manager of the Mount Ayr Hotel. The hotel closed permanently in September 1985. In December 1993, TEK Builders, of Mt. Ayr, razed the hotel and that was the end of Mount Ayr’s longest serving hotel.
In its later years, the Mount Ayr Hotel was a residential hotel. I knew several bachelors who lived there. In the early days, the hotel hosted traveling salesmen, but also professionals such as eye doctors and lecturers. This week’s picture is the best photo I have of the hotel.