Column sent to Frederick Leader and Frederick Press
April 27, 2010
|Hotel Frederick, Main and Grand Avenue, in the 1940s|
January 1930 Marked Opening of Hotel Frederick
January 3, 1930 was a momentous day in Frederick.
It was on that day that the luxurious new five-story Hotel Frederick, built at the corner of Main and Grand, was officially opened.
Certainly, there had been other hotels in Frederick in the years since the city’s founding in 1902, but none as magnificent as the Hotel Frederick.
The large modern hotel had been a dream of city fathers for years. They were convinced that it would become a hub for Frederick’s commerce, social life, and fine dining, while also serving as a destination for travelers. The completed hotel proved to be everything that they imagined.
The brick and concrete building was advertised as “absolutely fireproof” with “Class ‘A’ Construction throughout.” It featured 85 rooms and 85 bathrooms. Room rates ranged from $1.50 a night for the most basic room to $3 for a suite.
Every room featured circulating ice water, a ceiling fan, a radio, and a telephone.
The Frederick Hotel Company was organized in the late 1920s to plan, finance, and build the hotel. The Frederick Community Hotel Company, as identified in the January 3, 1930 dedication program, was made up of the following civic leaders of the community: Dr. J.D. Osborn, Jr., president; Guy S. Weathers, vice president and chairman of the building committee; J.D. Moore, treasurer; J.B. Beard, Jr., assistant treasurer; C.E. McConnell, assistant treasurer; J.L. Newland, secretary; G.E. McHugh, assistant secretary; C.R. Chamberlin, attorney; R.E. Tomlinson, building committee; and Charles Brunk, building committee.
The hotel’s official opening dinner was held January 3 in the hotel’s Blue Room and was one of the most grand special occasions in the city’s history up to that time.
It included a speech by Oklahoma Lieutenant Governor C.S. Storms; an address by O.M. Harrison, assistant manager of the Texas Hotel in Fort Worth, who spoke on the topic “What the New Hotel Means to Frederick”; music by the Oklahoma Sooners; and a vocal selection by Mrs. R.O. Cull, accompanied by Mrs. J.L. Meeks.
The event’s dinner included fresh crabmeat cocktail, chilled celery hearts and mammoth olives, baked milk-fed turkey, “Salade Fruit a la Frederick”, and asparagus tips on toast.
A dance followed the dinner.
General manager of the new hotel was J.R. Scarden, assisted by Mrs. Scarden who served as secretary-treasurer. W.C. Eastes was assistant manager. Miss Jewel Wright was coffee shop manager, and Jack Smith was the chef. Harley Hatcher served as night clerk and auditor, Norman Franklyn was bell captain, and B.D. Smith was engineer.
During planning for the building, committee members were enormously optimistic about the future. The Ramona Theatre, billed as the “Showplace of the Southwest”, was built in 1929 at the same time as the hotel. Planners could not have imagined that the coming years would be incredibly difficult for the nation and for Tillman County.
It was on October 29, 1929, “Black Tuesday,” when the New York Stock Market crashed, generally recognized as the beginning of the Great Depression. Failed banks, business failures, job losses, and depressed crop prices impacted every American. Crop failures and the dust bowl would decimate agriculture in Oklahoma during the early 1930s, and many parts of the nation would not fully recover until the early 1940s.
The Hotel Frederick was a hive of business activity in its early decades. By the late 1960s it was no longer a viable business enterprise and eventually closed, sitting empty for years until it was obtained by Community Action Development Corporation in the 1990s, restored and reopened as The Grand.
Today, thankfully, the Hotel Frederick is back. While it is no longer the hub of social life in Frederick as it was in its earliest days, a walk through the wonderful old lobby or a meal in the Taste of Grand coffee shop offers a nostalgic feel for how things used to be.
The Grand is a Tillman County treasure.
Joe Wynn is a member of the Tillman County Historical Society’s board of directors. He can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.