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June 10, 1995

Back to the subject of the Planters Hotel for just a few minutes. You'll recall my request for information about that hostelry in the Northwest Corner on May 21, along with a photo of it. Judge E. W Jones made reference to a hotel by that name in his "Early-Day History of Perry," published in the early 1930s. He even placed it on the north side of Cedar street approximately where the Bill Sheets family plumbing business is now located, but his book contained no pictures of it.

The photo used with my column was from a picture postcard owned by a friend in Kansas. It showed a Victorian three-story building with generous upper floor verandas, twin cupolas and a double-arch roof -- really a very classy structure. And for that reason some doubts were expressed that it ever existed in Perry. It just looked too good to have been here at that stage of the city's development, some said.

The picture on the postcard was clearly labeled as a Perry hotel but no location or year was indicated. Judge Jones' book certainly documents the fact that a hotel by that name was here and it was believed to have been around 1908. According to Judge Jones, the hotel was later destroyed by fire.

A few friends ventured the opinion, and I had to concur, that the architectural style and finely detailed carpentry work did seem to be anachronistic for that period of time in Perry, which was barely 15 years old by 1908 and still emerging from the overnight wonders of Sept. 16, 1893, when the Cherokee Strip was opened. So most of us were a little skeptical that that specific building ever existed here. We felt that it likely was a Planters Hotel from another city mistakenly credited to Perry.

But we reckoned without the resources of our wonderful Cherokee Strip Museum out on West Fir Avenue. Kaye Bond, the curator, has been trying to help dig up some information to prove or disprove the existence of that particular building in Perry. Friends, we have the definitive answer. Yes indeed, that building did grace our city's early-day business district, and Ms. Bond has the proof of it in a copy of the weekly Noble County News dated June 30, 1904.

The front page of that issue contains the same photo shown in the picture postcard and an article about "the new Hotel Planters" (not the Planters Hotel, as some other sources call it). Although the headline of the story called it the "new" Planters, notice what the editor called it in this portion of the article:

"Hotel Planters, which is located near the Frisco (line), is the oldest and best hotel in the city. The building is one of the largest in the city. It is a large brick structure with cool, airy rooms, handsomely furnished throughout and kept nice and clean. Doc Scott and wife, the proprietors, are hotel people of wide experience and have made it a close rival to the very best in the territory.

"The Frisco Company have made it the stopping place for their morning and evening trains, for breakfast and supper, thus bringing in much trade for that hotel. It is a conceded fact that unless the meals were first class the railroad company would not lend to the place their patronage. And not only does the Frisco appreciate the value of the Hotel Planters as a first class stopping place, but many of the traveling men of the Santa Fe are frequent visitors also at the Planters.

"Another very important feature of the place is the fact that in appearance it rivals some of the places you see described in stories. Great tall trees line the walk in front and the south breeze stirring softly among the leaves, this mingled with the happy warblings of the birds, furnish music sweet and expressive as one could desire."

The story goes on and on in that vein, and although I love the rhapsodic phrases and descriptions as much as iambic pentameter, I'll not try to reprint all of it here in the interest of at least a little brevity. I do thank Kaye Bond for turning up this interesting bit of early Perry history, and I also appreciate the others who called or passed along their views on the Planters Hotel. Or Hotel Planters, if they wish.