Alpena’s Globe Hotel: Nearly 100 years of history | News, Sports, Jobs

Robert Roffulo

Courtesy Photo This photo provided by the Alpena County Library Special Collections Department shows the Globe Hotel on fire in 1978. ALPENA — During the late 1800s and well into the mid-20th century, Alpena was a destination for traveling salespeople, itinerant workers, and tourists. The area north and south of […]

Courtesy Photo
This photo provided by the Alpena County Library Special Collections Department shows the Globe Hotel on fire in 1978.

ALPENA — During the late 1800s and well into the mid-20th century, Alpena was a destination for traveling salespeople, itinerant workers, and tourists.

The area north and south of the Thunder Bay River was robust with hotels and rooming houses accommodating those visitors.

The George N. Fletcher Alpena County Public Library’s Special Collections section listed some of the hotels as the Alpena Hotel, Sherman House, Union Hotel, Kentucky Motor Inn, Central Hotel, and Hotel Cobden.

Then there was the historic Globe Hotel.

The first Globe Hotel was built on River Street and burned in 1871. According to historic accounts, that blaze consumed not only the hotel, but three entire business blocks.

Courtesy Photo
This photo provided by Sara Stoner shows a historic Globe Hotel brass key fob.

A new and more magnificent Globe Hotel was constructed in the early 1880s on Washington Street, just off Chisholm Street. The two-plus-story structure was located near the Trinity Episcopal Church and next to the former Elks Lodge.

In the Globe’s early years, it was owned by Dougald McDonald. An Alpena News story stated the daily room rent was $1. By the early 1900s, the Fitzgerald family took ownership of the Globe.

Numerous postings from the Alpena County Michigan History Facebook page revealed the Globe had quite a history. In particular, with the Erin Room Tavern. Among the accounts given were various parties, first dates, secret or lasting relationships, weddings, funerals, working or living at the Globe, altercations, and other assorted accounts.

In a Facebook posting, Nancy Matlack shared her Globe memories. In part, she stated: “Loved the back dark corners of the Erin Room. As a coming age young woman friends introduced me to cheap alcohol and the fascinating intermingling of Alpena’s elite.”

She continued by commenting: “Stories of hard living and scandalous debauchery occasionally surfaced with a few (fisticuffs) and swift exits through the main back door.”

A 1954 newspaper account documented the Alpena Municipal Council’s concurrence with the Michigan Liquor Control Commission and Alpena Police Department’s approval to allow dancing at the Globe.

The Globe’s Erin Room was closed in 1957 for a variety of reasons. However, in spring 1958, the Municipal Council and city attorney agreed that, with predetermined satisfactory conditions, Isabel Fitzpatrick could reopen the tavern to serve liquor and allow dancing.

According to a June 1969 Alpena News account, “the Globe will soon take on a new look as workmen remove portions of the old facade to pave the way for extensive remodeling.”

An Alpena News story revealed in September 1973 a basement fire occurred at the Globe. It was quickly brought under control by the Alpena Fire Department, with no upper floor damage.

Based on a spring 1978 citing of unsafe and unsanitary building conditions, in August 1978, the Alpena city attorney, Isadore Isackson, advised the Municipal Council the building needed to be demolished. The Globe’s liquor license would be put in escrow.

In an interview with former Alpena firefighter and emergency medical technician Joe Marceau, he stated: “Late afternoon on Saturday, Oct. 7, 1978 my wife and I were preparing to celebrate our wedding anniversary. It was after 5:30 p.m. when I received a series of telephone calls about the Globe fire. Fire Chief Don McNeil requested for me to bring the 1941 Mack truck engine to the fire.”

When he arrived, the fire had been blazing for nearly an hour.

Marceau parked the engine near the Globe and quickly hooked the hose to the fire hydrant and truck’s pumping system. By 2 a.m., Mort Fivenson arrived at the scene providing more gas for the Mack’s pumping system.

Because of the blaze’s massive size and to ensure the fire would not spread, water hoses were directed at the adjacent Elks Lodge and nearby residences.

By 6 a.m., the fire was under control.

The fire brought on site four fire engines and 20 personnel. An Alpena News account stated there was a crowd of close to 1,000 onlookers as the Globe burned.

Marceau stated that, with great fortune, during the entire ordeal, there were no other fire calls.

The fire was attributed to several theories. The demolition crew’s desire to stay warm by tossing building timbers into a lit Globe fireplace. The fireplace blaze crept through the walls and into the Globe’s ceilings and roof.

Another account was the wrecking crew set the fire with an acetylene torch while cutting pipes.

The Globe may long be gone, but there are a few remnants of the historic and legendary structure in existence. For example, Sara Stoner has a brass Globe room key fob. Roy Wekwert has a classic labeled Globe metal trash can. Susan Sanborn acquired some Globe furniture. Both Earl Emmet Stoner and Ester Donald Briggs have plate glass mirrors from the hotel.

Most of all, hundreds of people have countless memories of this nearly 100-year-old structure. Perhaps, some accounts, best not to be known.

Jeffrey D. Brasie is a retired health care CEO who frequently writes historic feature stories and op-eds. He is a former Alpena resident and resides in suburban Detroit.


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