Cleveland July 21, 2019
The Ruins Of This Famously Massive Hotel Just Outside Of Cleveland Captivate Visitors To This Day
Just north of Cleveland is a grand body of water to whom we owe our early prosperity: Lake Erie. Today, this great lake maintains something of an unfavorable reputation (and so, too does Cleveland, otherwise referred to as the Mistake on the Lake by the occasional disgruntled resident or Steelers fan), but its actually a beautiful feature that offers incredible views and a little taste of island life. Tourists have adored its shores and islands since the 1800s, a history that has created some stunning ruins near Cleveland and throughout the area. Prepare for a road trip, because we’re visiting the former grounds of an endlessly opulent overnight destination — just be sure to bring some bug spray and a sleeping bag!
Put-in-Bay is a dreamy community to day trip to from Cleveland, especially if you're seeking stellar sunsets and a healthy dose of history.
This enchanting island is full of surprises for the unsuspecting tourist. A Victorian era village,
the world's longest bar
, and a few spectacular underground caves are just a few of the surprises that await. However, one of the most intriguing surprises awaits in South Bass Island State Park.
The Hotel Victory's first cornerstone was laid in 1889. By its completion in 1892, this hotel had earned fame.
Not only was the Hotel Victory a lovely place to stay... it was also the largest hotel in the United States, and one of the largest in the entire world.
The hotel's 180,000-square-feet offered guests a taste of the finer things, encompassing a swimming pool and two splendid dining rooms.
625 guest rooms provided ample space for tourists looking to have a great time on South Bass Island. They were able to access the hotel from the docs via a trolley line, a ride that must have struck visitors with awe as they approached the magnificent hotel.
Nothing gold can stay, they say, and the same is true for the hotel... it was struck by misfortune on August 14, 1919.
1918 was a momentous year. President Theodore Roosevelt died in his sleep in January, Cleveland dealt with May Day riots in May, and, in August, the hotel burnt to a crisp. The flames that danced off the structure were seen as far away as Detroit and Toledo, consuming its one mile of carpeting and 16.5 acres of floor space.
Though the fire destroyed the structure, a few ruins remain — and they're now part of a campground.
The 33-acre South Bass Island State Park is spectacularly lovely, and visitors love staying amidst their 133 camp sites. From tents to cabins, this cozy campsite allows you to dwell on the very site where Victorian era tourists once stayed. To book your own campsite, click
The Hotel Victory's opulence was singed and its remains were scavenged on that fateful day, but there's a glimmer of sunshine in this story: the 20-some guests all safely escaped the fire unharmed.
While nobody was hurt during the blaze, bones of this once grand edifice are all that remain. Located in the center of the campground is one particularly large ruin — the skeletal remains of a lonely Victorian era swimming pool. Installed in 1898, this feature delighted visitors for more than two decades before disaster struck. It's worth noting that these remains offer a unique glimpse at one of the first co-ed pools in the nation.
While most of the hotel is long gone, its storied past captivates island visitors to this day.
Much of South Bass Island has earned a reputation of some sort — after all, as the Key West of Lake Erie, tourists flock to the island in droves. Many places on the island, unfortunately burned down over the years, and have since amassed claims of hauntings, as investigated by
Fringe Paranormal Investigations
. Could this site, the ruins of the Hotel Victory, truly be haunted by a disappointed investor or a terror-stricken maid? Perhaps not, but many sites on the island are, if you're brave enough to challenge the unknown.
And, of course, its former grounds make a spectacular place to spend a night on Lake Erie's shore.
Address: 1523 Catawba Avenue, Put-In-Bay, OH, 43456
This fascinating historic hotel remained in the memories of Northern Ohioans for decades, but its magnificence has unfortunately grown largely forgotten. Would you ever camp alongside these ruins? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Adore exploring abandoned places? Take a
virtual visit to this former telescope factory in Cleveland.