Submitted by Nute Chapman
From Onaway Outlook Feb. 12, 2012
Caption: The Colonial Hotel, constructed at the turn of the 20th century, was one of Onaway grandest
buildings before a fire in 1927.
(Editor's Note: Totem Pole Tales returns this week with a primary focus on the history of the area. Newton "Nute" Chapman, Jr. will share historical photos and knowledge he's collected from "old timers", his father Newton Chapman Sr., as well as other family members.)
Where to start? How about the heart of downtown Onaway at the former location of the Colonial Hotel, building that once towered at the northeast corner of State and Elm, the location of the Dairy Queen.
It was built in 1902. It had 63 rooms and was three stories high. It fronted 64 feet on State Street and 102 feet down on Elm.
I would have to say it probably was the grandest building ever built in Onaway. It was certainly the largest. There were other big hotels, but not like that.
In the beginning it was a hotel with a bar. Eva Freel Fitzpatrick, who was my grandmother, her dad was a bartender there.
Eva and my grandfather, George, were married there.
Over the years the bar closed and the Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company took up part of the bottom floor. Fairchild's had a shop in there,as well as Vern Trans' Barbershop.
During the time when they were bonding for a new school in 1914, the Colonial Hotel was used for school rooms. They farmed all the kids out because the community was growing so fast.
I believe the building burned in 1927.
The lot remained vacant until the 1950s. In 1956 or '57, I helped the late Charlie Decker and his boys pour the concrete for the Dairy Queen. One of them is my age, Bob Decker, a couple of them are still alive. The Dairy Queen building was built by Charlie Decker.
I don't have any mementoes, but I wish I did. -Onaway Outlook, February 10, 2012, p.3. Retyped by J. Anderson.