The Arlington Hotel is located in West Bay City that, as the name implies, sits on the west bank of the Saginaw River. Back in 1865, the west side was called Wenona, named for the mother in Longfellow’s poem “Hiawatha.” With the town’s rapid growth, in 1877 the name changed to West Bay City.
Today the town is an interesting blend of gift and antiques shops, restaurants and a variety of pubs. In fact, the number of pubs in West Bay City make it quite a party town on the weekends. At this particular time of the day, however, the streets were quiet and the Arlington Hotel waited.
It was originally built 1867 by the Bunnel brothers as a wood-frame hotel known as the Bunnel House. Unfortunately, within the first year, a massive fire took it down. In 1868 it was rebuilt using brick. Louis Potter purchased the hotel in 1882, then named the Wells House, and renamed it the Arlington Hotel. The name and ownership has changed several times in the hotel’s more than 140 years eventually returning to its earlier name of Arlington Hotel.
Arlington Hotel at the turn of the century.
Courtesy of the Arlington Hotel
As mentioned, though the word “hotel” remains in Arlington’s name, it is primarily a bar. Though a few rooms on the second floor are available for rent, the majority remain vacant. The third floor is a deteriorated shell of vacant rooms and, as we would soon discover, uninhabitable.
Bev and I stepped through the front door of the Arlington entering into a large room that once served as the main lobby. Dark paneled walls and high ceilings were a clear reminder of its 1800’s construction. Those were the days of grand entrances and a reminder that, at one point in time, the Arlington Hotel was one of West Bay City’s finest lodgings.
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