This article appeared in the Journal Herald on December 30, 1967
Van Cleve Will Be Sadly Quiet Tonight
By James Babcock
The old Van Cleve hotel will be sadly quiet tonight.
The quick hustle of its bellboys and neat, scurrying maids will be gone.
The warm “hellos” of its room clerks and the friendly “thank you” of its cashier will be missing – and the bubbling chatter of guests moving to and from its 236 rooms will be a memory.
But the tinkle and clatter of eating will continue to seep through the closed doors of the Mayfair restaurant and the laughter of good times will keep ringing from the tables and stools of the Wagon Wheel bar.
And among the waiters, bartenders, cashiers, busboys and table captains serving the food and drink, there will be a fond recollection of yesterday, when hotel manager Claude J. Cannon called them all together for a final staff meeting and a last goodby.
There were nearly 180 people gathered before “Mr. Cannon,” each trying, but few succeeding, to hold back the tears as he told them of the affection he felt for them and thanked them for the their loyalty and co-operation over the years.
“Most of them were considered friends rather than employes,” the manager said in recalling the difficult last goodby.
“You work with people all of those years and you get to know them pretty well. So, when you come to a parting of the ways, it’s not a time for joy,” he added.
But the parting of the ways and the goodbyes were necessary, because the Van Cleve hotel will go out of existence at midnight tomorrow – just five days short of the 40th anniversary of its grand opening.
After that, only the Mayfair and the Wagon Wheel will remain much as they are now – but under new management. The hotel itself will be converted to a senior citizens residence owned by the Christ Episcopal church which bought it last month.
The past few weeks have been sad ones for Cannon, who has been on the hotel staff since 1933 and manager since 1941.
There have been rooms to clean up for the last time, reservation requests to send back with a “we regret we are going out of business,” keys to rack up for dust gathering, accounts to close down a guest list to gradually reduce.
The numerous phasing out details have been done one-by-one until there is nothing to do today except help some 30 guests check out by 5 p.m. today.
Then Cannon and a few remaining staff members will tally the last day’s receipts, make a final round of putting rooms in order, perhaps see to the welfare of two “permanent” guests who will remain until next week.
Later this evening, Cannon will return with some friends from Cincinnati to stay in the old hotel for the last time.
When the friends have gone and the new year has come, he’ll be in and out of the old hotel for maybe another two months – acting as advisor to the new Van Cleve House, Inc. and the new management of the Mayfair and Wagon Wheel.
What comes next is uncertain, he said, “But after 35 years in the business, I know if I had it to do all over again, I’d do the same thing.”