Mindy Hardwick's Blog

Author Mindy Hardwick Muses about Writing

The Elmheart Hotel–Vintage Valentine History

on February 1, 2013

When I was asked to write a Valentine romance story, I knew it had to be a very special story.  So, on Christmas night, my Mom and I sat down in front of the fireplace and brainstormed possible ideas.  After about thirty minutes, I liked our characters and story conflict, but, I was still at a loss for where to set the story.  When I got home, I started looking in files for possible writing ideas. It was there I found the first idea file I ever created for writing. Although, at the time, I’m not sure I knew it was an idea file.  In college, I was in love with an old hotel on Lake Ontario–The Elmheart Hotel (pictured below). I started collecting clippings and stories about the hotel with dreams of one day restoring it.

Elmheart Hotel Picture(Photo credit: Rochester’s Lakeside Resorts and Amusement Parks, Donovan A. Shilling)

I first wrote about the Elmheart Hotel in college. One of my first publications in my college literary journal, THE ANGLE, was an essay about the Elmheart Hotel.  By that time, the hotel was still standing, but just barely. Here I am in front of the hotel during college. It looks a “little bit” different than the picture above!

College Elmheart Hotel

The Elmheart Hotel was a hotel on Lake Ontario during the late 1800’s.  The hotel was the last stop on a trolley line that ran from Rochester, New York to Manitou Beach. Fredrick Odenbach built the hotel in the early 1890’s. However, the Skinner family, who owned the land next to the hotel, claimed the hotel was on their land. They took Odenbach to court. The court ruled the land belonged to Odenbach.

The Skinner family still thought the hotel belonged to them, and they took Odenbach to court again. This time, the ruling was in favor of the Skinner family.  The mix-up in ownership happened over a surveyor mistake in 1802. The property line was declared at an oak tree. But, the tree was really an elm tree. After the court ruled in favor of Skinner, he gave the hotel the name The Elmheart Hotel.

In 1903, the hotel was sold to Michael Olaughlin and George Weidman.  A room fire in 1931 forced George to stop renting rooms to guests. However, during the depression, George built a dance hall next to the hotel. Big bands played in the dance hall and the hotel was kept open only as a bar on evenings and weekends. After George’s death in 1986, there was talk of building a restaurant and restoring the hotel. But, due to a lack of sewer systems, the plans never moved forward.

In 1990, a boyfriend took me to see the hotel. The windows were boarded up, the paint peeling and the yard was filled with weeds. However, the old ballroom was still intact. I fell in love with the Elmheart Hotel and envisioned how it could be restored. The hotel burned in 1992 and my dream never materialized. Arson was listed as the cause of the fire. I hope this story, VINTAGE VALENTINE, restores the Elmheart Hotel and gives it a happily-ever-after.

(Research Credit: Rebecca Hardwick)

Vintage Valentine

6 responses to “The Elmheart Hotel–Vintage Valentine History

  1. I’m truly enjoying the design and layout of your blog. It’s
    a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more pleasant
    for me to come here and visit more often.
    Did you hire out a designer to create your theme?
    Superb work!

  2. Thanks so much! I am using one of the free templates that is done by WordPress which is who hosts my blog.

  3. […] Do you have a favorite summer memory? One of my favorite summer memories is dating a guy who I met on my parent’s sailboat during college. My boyfriend took me to see an old, and abandoned hotel on the shores of Lake Ontario called The Elmheart Hotel. I fell in love with that hotel and the old ballroom. I envisioned a restored hotel with dances, music, and wonderful food. However, before I finished college, the old hotel burned. (You can read more about the Elmheart Hotel here)  […]

  4. […] working on my last and final story in the sweet, contemporary romance series about the Elmheart Hotel.  This one will be a story which takes place around New Year’s Eve. (This is not the last […]

  5. […] Now, for that giveaway….sticking with the upstate New York theme, I am giving away one signed copy of my sweet contemporary romance, ROMANCE FOR ALL SEASONS. The book is a collection of six novellas, all taking place during the holidays. The characters connect to each other in each story and three of the stories are set in the old Elmheart Hotel once located on the shores of Lake Ontario. […]

  6. […] old hotel in the Adirondacks. The story resonates so strongly to me as my own fascination with the Elmheart Hotel on the shores of Lake Ontario began when I was a college student in Rochester New York. Years later, I wrote a series of three […]

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