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The Anthony Hotel ca. 1946

By Randy Harter

Fort Wayne Reader

2016-10-24


The Fort Wayne Hotel Company began construction in of the nine-story, 263-room Anthony hotel in 1905, opening with a celebratory banquet in February of 1908. Ornate with a stained-glass central skylight and expansive use of marble, the hotel was designed by local architect Charles Weatherhogg who had the family crest of General Anthony Wayne emblazed on chair backs and other hotel items. Located at 128 West Berry, the northeast corner of Berry and Harrison, the hotel was first managed by Hugh Keenan and later by his son James. The Keenan family also operated other hotels in Toledo and Milwaukee and later even opened the competing Keenan Hotel at Harrison and Washington Streets in----- 1923. In 1947 the Anthony was leased to F. Harold Van Orman, who poured $400,000 into modernizing the popular downtown gathering place and rebranding it as the Van Orman. Harold Van Orman was also active locally as president of the Fort Wayne Daisies women’s baseball team and, along with Ernie Berg and Ramon Perry, was the original backer/owner of the newly formed (1952) Fort Wayne Komets. When Van Orman’s lease expired in 1968, it was again renamed the Anthony but closed a year later and fell into disrepair. With more than $100,000. owed in back taxes, the property was sold in 1973 to Fort Wayne National Bank who was seeking an adjacent parking lot. On January 13, 1974 and with 294 explosive charges, downtown’s grand dame for more than 65 years came down in just 9 seconds. Three blocks away and 10 months later in October, the 13-story Keenan Hotel met the same fate.

(Image courtesy of ACPL)

Randy Harter is a Fort Wayne historian and author of two books on local history.

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