Mar 16, 2005
REMEMBERING LEIENDECKERS INN
In 1898, brothers E. J. and John Leiendecker came to town looking for a site for a new summer resort hotel. Finding a building for sale located on the choice corner of Mason and Water Streets, they purchased it for $3,750 and proceeded to remodel the interior of the building and enlarge it with a second story addition. The new resort was to be named the Kalamazoo Hotel, but before opening in the spring of 1900, it was destroyed by fire.
Undaunted by their loss, the brothers began building again the following spring. When opened, their new building with a single gable facing south, was less than half of its eventual size. In 1905, the north half was added including a large verandah on both the north and south sides. The north porch was designed as an open saloon, enclosed only with lattice and known as "the summer garden." The Leiendecker Inn had thirty seven sleeping rooms--with a bell in each room--a dining room that could seat 100 guests, and a large bar and adjoining pool room. The Commercial Record lauded the establishment, "Leiendecker now has a building to be proud of and those who have gone through it have found that no money has been spared to make it first class in every respect."
But, Hotel owners
in Saugatuck Township were dealt a severe blow in 1907. After years of effort by opponents
of "demon rum", the Township finally voted for "Local Option"--a state
law which allowed local governments to ban the sale of alcoholic beverages. Since the bar
business was important to the profitability of the hotel, this development resulted in the
Leiendeckers turning the operation over to J. F. Hall in 1911 on a lease. The place was
renamed the Columbia Hotel and struggled for five years before the doors closed. After a
four year shut-down the building was sold to became Hotel Saugatuck. Under several owners
in the next forty years the Hotel Saugatuck and the Old Crow Bar prospered and became a
local institution. The Johnson family acquired the business in 1959-under Johnson's
guidance and the Coral Gables name it has been a great success ever since.