Archive for Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Lansing hotel

August 23, 2007

At one time there were political rallies held on the big front porch of the Lansing Hotel located at what is now132 E. Kansas on the south side of the street. This hotel had three floors and a basement and was the tallest building in town. There was an east entrance that took you to a large dining room that provided meals for the guests. It had nine rooms and nine apartments. It was probably built following the completion of the State Prison, in about 1868. It was intended originally to be a nursing home. I do not know when it turned into a hotel, as that was the only way I remembered it.

During the political years of the 1930s, rallies were held at this hotel on the big front porch that extended out across the first floor. Big red, white and blue bunting decorated the porch railing from one side to the other. Many political speeches were given there during the summer and people would come from the whole county to hear the speeches. There was free food, drinks and ice cream that came in large metal containers. The drinks were served in large tin cups with big handles that were probably made at the prison. The inmate trusties dished out the ice cream and I made more than one trip for seconds and thirds.

At that time the workers at the state prison had to be the same political affiliation as the governor, therefore when a new governor with a different political view was elected many employees automatically lost their jobs. Many or our friends would have to move and if things worked out four years later they would move back. It also forced some employees to discreetly go to the County Court House to change their politics every few years. This all changed in the 1940s when all the employees at the prison were forced to take Civil Service tests to keep their jobs. After that, political affiliation did not matter.

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