Park Hotel was Hinsdale's place to stay

Series: Hinsdale 150 | Story 30

As Hinsdale’s population was expanding 150 years ago, families needed lodging while their homes were being built. The Park Hotel served that purpose and more, as Timothy Bakken chronicles in his book “Hinsdale,” and was a fixture in the community for more than four decades, despite revolving-door ownership.

Built around 1867 near the northwest corner of Washington Street and the railroad tracks, the original three-story structure was called Hinsdale House. An expansion several years later by new owners brothers Charles and Thomas Clark “added a front addition of three stories ... and made an ‘increase’ in the livery facilities.”

Among the families who availed themselves of the accommodations were the Tiffanys in 1870. Father Joel would become Hinsdale’s first village president.

“Another class of boarder at the Park Hotel was the salesman ... who came on the train lugging suitcases filled with all manner of curious goods.

“David Thurston, Fullersburg area pioneer, took over the hotel sometime in the 1870s and seems to have called it the Park House or Park Hotel ... In 1881, Thurston turned the place over to his son-in-law, Philander Torode.

“The hotel soon passed to one T.J. Hunt ... Hunt sold the place in 1893 to a Charles Etna of Chicago; Mr. Etna got out quick, it would seem, for a year later we find the place called the ‘Hotel French’ under the aegis of Thomas French, who offered room and board at $2 a day.

“In 1896 the old hotel was back in T.J. Hunt’s hands. He sold it yet again, to Sarah Long, the intrepid woman who in turn disposed of the place to Philip Mackey in December 1897 to outfit herself for the Yukon gold fields.

“New proprietor Mackey earned himself lasting honor by giving Hinsdale newspaper boys — all seven of them — a Thanksgiving dinner of turkey, cranberry sauce, apples and pie in 1898.

“Sarah found the Yukon a disappointment and returned to re-buy the hotel from Mackey, and she is not mentioned as giving free dinners to newsboys. Mrs. Long was the hotel’s last proprietor, closing it about 1908. By October 1911, the building itself had been cut in half and its sections moved for use as houses.”

Those houses still stand at 46 S. Madison St. and at 549 York Road. And there’s one other remnant from the site that many Hinsdaleans pass by every day.

“The Park Hotel had a large watering trough in front of it, for their own horses and anyone else’s. Originally this was of wood. In the late 1890s the Woman’s Club, occupied with plans for beautifying Hinsdale, found this watering trough unsightly and presented the hotel (or the village) with a cast-iron one.”

Next time you’re on Washington Street just north of the tracks, notice the planter on the west side parkway between the commuter parking lot and Mobil. That was the 19th-century filling station, a memento from early Hinsdale.

— by Ken Knutson

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean