Ontario Beach Park – #2

Spencer House

Martin McIntyre would sell his property at the beach that included his hotel called Beach House. Sources say that he sold the land to John Burns and in 1872 or 1873. He would built the Spencer House on that lot. The 1874 Rochester directory (page 587) says that the proprietor of the hotel  was Thomas Veazie. Spencer House had 76 sleeping rooms, parlors, dressing rooms and dining facilities. There was also a barn that could accommodate 100 horses (reference: Rochester History, July 1946, page 13).

At the opening of the season in late May 1876 there was an unnamed band playing at the hotel. In July 1880 twenty kegs of beer were stolen from the hotel. Main suspects were a crew from a Canadian schooner.

The hotel would burn to the ground in Jan. 1882. A bootblack named Matthew Henion was charged with setting the fire. In a court statement he said he was assisted by James McGuinn. They had been hired by Dennis Leary who wanted the hotel burned down for the insurance money.

Cottage Hotel; early 1900s

In 1874 another hotel was built. It would be on west side of a northerly extension of what is now Lake Avenue and named the Cottage Hotel. The 1874 Rochester directory says that the proprietor is H. S. Moody & Son.

In April 1885 Cottage Hotel was bought by Henry Bartholomay. He owned one of the largest breweries in Rochester. Mr. Bartholomay started quickly to update the hotel. By July of 1885 there was a large bathhouse with 70 “apartments.” He had added electric lights to each of the hotel rooms. He also appointed Edward P. Olmstead as manager of the hotel. Mr. Olmstead started a plan that would lease small lots for cottages. The people would have to eat all their meals at the hotel.

Dining room at Cottage Hotel

There had been a barn associated with the hotel from the earliest day which could hold 200 horses. Then in 1886 the Cottage Hotel would add a 99 x 102 feet enclosed pavilion. The pavilion featured a band with singing, dancing, vaudeville and refreshments (usually beer). One of the bands in June 1888 was Professor Morgan and the Celebrated Academy of Music Orchestra.

On Memorial Day 1892 President Benjamin Harrison came to Rochester for the dedication of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Washington Square Park. He, NY Governor Flower and a large party made a train trip to Charlotte and had a sumptuous breakfast at the Cottage Hotel. Besides strawberries with sugar the group was also served fish and chicken.

The Cottage Hotel fared the same demise as Spencer House. Both the hotel and pavilion were destroyed by fire on the night of Sept. 14, 1914. At least this wasn’t burned intentionally.

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