By Jim Bloch
Is your favorite bar stool still in the River Lounge? Is your favorite room still intact on the ground floor of the north wing of the St. Clair Inn? What about the pool where, after a few pops, you’d sneak in for a post-midnight skinny dip?
Forget about it.
Except for the walls, the old brick floor in the lobby and the reception desk, very little of the old St. Clair Inn will be visible in the new St. Clair Inn. The three-year, $35 million renovation took the existing facility down to its studs, added a third floor to the north wing, demolished the section of the inn containing the pool and built a new banquet facility in its place. The old River Lounge, also stripped to its bare walls, will become the Sand Bar. Whatever memories you have of the old in will have to remain in cranium.
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The general public will get its first chance to tour the new facility on Saturday, Oct. 26, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
“It’s a chance for people who have been wondering what’s been going on with my beloved inn actually to see for themselves,” said Bill Kaufman, speaking on behalf of Grindstone Strategies, which is handling marketing for the inn.
“There will be a ribbon-cutting at 10 a.m. and comments. The Rotary Club will present the inn with a plaque.”
With the Oakland Hotel on the south side of town closing in 1911 and the Sommerville on the city’s north side shutting its door in 1917, St. Clair suddenly had no major hotel.
The St. Clair Rotary Club stepped into the void and raised $180,000 to build a new hotel on the banks of the St. Clair River right downtown. The hotel, with sixty guest rooms, was built for about $120,000, opened in 1926.
“The inn staff will lead groups through the inn and talk about what kind of services will be offered,” said Kaufman.
“There may be some surprises on Saturday as well,” said Kaufman.
There is no charge to attend the event, but hotel officials have asked visitors to sign up for tours.
Jim Bloch is an award-winning freelance writer based in St. Clair, Michigan. He writes about the environment, local politics, art, music, history and culture. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.