Losing a building filled with memories

Watching the tragic destruction of an historic building on Main Street was heart wrenching.

The upper level of this century-old building was, for most of its lifetime, a hotel with mixed-use, ground-level stores and a bar. For many years, the hotel was called the Brooks Hotel. About 1959, my parents purchased the hotel. They lived in a three-room apartment above what was then the Home Plate Tavern. My brothers and I lived in rooms across the hall from their apartment.

In June 1960, I married and moved to an apartment in north Auburn. For the next several years, we returned to their apartment for holiday dinners or when my dad required an extra set of hands for some task – or simply to check in.

My mother was a fastidious housekeeper, and she kept the rooms of the hotel as clean as her own house.

After my first daughter arrived, my parents would occasionally baby sit her at the hotel. My daughter loved to go to the hotel because grandpa would hoist her on his shoulders and carry her around the half-block long corridors of the hotel. What great memories we had at that old hotel.

My parents operated the hotel until the early 1970s when they retired, sold the hotel and moved to a bungalow on K Street Southeast. They passed away in the late 1990s. They would have been devastated to watch “their” hotel destroyed in such a fashion.

We grieve for those who have been displaced, lost their jobs or lost their businesses, and we pray for those who suffered injuries.

We also must thank the fearless firefighters from several agencies that fought this fire in near-freezing conditions. Their expertise contained the fire within the brick walls of the building, prevented a conflagration that could have consumed neighboring buildings on both sides of Main Street.

It is probably unreasonable to consider repairing the building, but ultimately I see a multi-story structure containing living accommodations with ground-level retails stores and a tavern/bar rising up like a phoenix from all this destruction.

Maybe in another 100 years someone will write a note about fond remembrances of living in that century-old building, just as I have for this now-destroyed edifice.

– Ed Swanlund

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