Photo taken in 1915 by O. Burton Stacy (an Alton Photographer)
The Alton House was initially built in 1866 and was owned by C. Glimpse. It was located on the north side of the old Ridge Road where it met Shaker Tract Street. It was on the route used by the stage coaches from Oswego to Rochester and must have been used as a stagecoach stop. It had 2 ballrooms and was used for plays, dances, ice cream socials, social and community meetings.
July 4th, 1876
On our nation’s 100th anniversary, the Alton House held a grand dance to celebrate the centennial.
On at least one occasion, things got a little out of control:
From Wayne County Review, Thursday, October 12, 1905
Riot in Alton
Tramps from the Shaker Tract Make Things Lively
Last Saturday eve our streets were the scene of a riot which disturbed the peace of the whole village as well as being a disgrace to the entire vicinity. There are several tramps employed at the Shaker Tract and they come to town to spend their week’s wages. There were a large number of men on the streets returning from the caucus at Sodus some of whom had taken too much Sodus whiskey. An excuse for a fight was soon manufactured and the row commenced. One man was stabbed in the back and had a large gash cut deep for several inches. Dr. Seaman had to be called to take several stitches in the wound. Windows were knocked out at the Alton House and several men knocked down with beer glasses. The fight was carried to the street and kept up to the disgust of all good citizens. The constable was out of town and finally Justice Gatchell empowered several men to act as officers and heading the lot sailed in. Two of the gang were soon in irons and Justice Gatchell sent them to the Sodus lockup to sober up over Sunday. These Saturday evening riots are a guarantee for no license in Sodus another year.
Alton House prior to 1908 photo courtesy of Bette Bugni
1915 Booster Day (photos courtesy Mel Winter and Bette Bugni)
In the early days of the 1900s, towns held “booster days” which were designed to draw crowds and help the local merchants as a result. Click the two links below and here we see the 1915 booster day (west end and east end of Alton) where 10 of the newfangled cars were on display. You can zoom in to see the type of car information and people’s name where they are known.
West end of Alton:
East end of Alton:
More Booster Day Memories
In her presentation “History of Alton” prepared by Nona McDowell for Sodus Bay Historical Society Annual Dinner at Alton Hotel on 8/11/79:
THE ALTON HOTEL
I wish that I could find out more about it, as I am sure it has a very colorful history. It has had lots of Community Spirit through the years- Big Auctions used to be held here by Wat Wood and during the World War several meetings for the Red Cross. They have had hundreds of beautiful wedding receptions. They used to hold dances many years ago. A story is told by a friend that the town drunk would come to the hotel and get so he couldn’t walk so the proprietor would put him in his horse and buggy and the horse knew the route better than the occupant to return home. This performance was repeated many times. Can you imagine what would happen today, the car certainly wouldn’t get him home. Some of the previous proprietors of the hotel are; Mr. Glimpse, Fred Bridger, Mr. & Mrs. Ted Faatz, Jack Sheehan, Cha Gallery, Joe Bloothall and Wat Wood. I brought some pictures of the Hotel 1908, but the date the pictures were taken was actually 1915, because you can read 1 license plate year on cars. It was taken on Booster Day, which Alton was noted for having a good time. Early each spring people came in town from the surrounding countryside, It shows the grocery store (E. Philo) and five of the automobiles, also a picture of the meat market and Anson Gatchel1’s hardware and four or the houses on main street and the dirt roads.
In one car it shows a picture of Ben Tyndall and his bride to be. The story is that Mr. Gatchell would give a new cook stove to any couple that would be married in the store window on Booster day. Years later, Mr. Tyndall went to Rochester on business and stayed all night in a hotel and was not familiar with how gas lights worked, so when he retired he blew out the light and that was the end of Mr. Tyndall. He is buried in the Alton Cemetery.
Owners of Alton Hotel
In 1934, it became the Alton Hotel. William S. Sheenhan (who previously had managed Eastover Manor for 1 year) owned it from June 4, 1934 until selling it in Oct 1957 to Stephen Manolatos who would die suddenly on Aug. 31, 1961.
It burnt down on Feb. 16, 1986 and was at that time owned by Alan Dijiro. The land was subsequently bought by Eithel Wigent
These two photos of the Alton Hotel fire are courtesy of Bill Huff, Jr.