Tuesday, March 05, 2013

William T. and Abel K. West

An article which appeared in the December 31, 1922 issue of the Sandusky Register stated that to William T. West and Abel K. West, “Sandusky is indebted for its first boulevard, its first cement pavement, the first open front store, the first mansard roof, even its first mahogany chairs.”  W.T. and A. K. West operated a general store in Sandusky in the 1840s. Theirs was the only store that remained open during Sandusky’s cholera epidemic in 1849. The West brothers were the owners of the West House Hotel which was opened to the public in 1858. At one time the West House was the largest hotel between Cleveland and Toledo. It was five stories high, and was located at the corner of Columbus Avenue and Water Street, in downtown Sandusky. It was open in time to accommodate the crowds who came to the Ohio State Fair, hosted in Sandusky in 1858.

William T. West became a resident of Sandusky quite by accident. In 1837, he planned to go from Buffalo to Detroit. He stayed overnight in Sandusky, Ohio. In the morning the hotel keeper forgot to waken him. When he woke up, his ship had already left.  He threw himself into the water, and swam after the vessel. After it was determined that his baggage had stayed in Sandusky, he returned to Sandusky and settled here. During the Civil War, William T. West and a partner, Philander Gregg, received a contract to build prison buildings and officers’ quarters at the prison on Johnson’s Island. Because the proximity of the West House to the confederate prison at Johnson's  Island, the hotel was almost always filled to capacity during the Civil War. Government officials who had dealings with the prison often stayed overnight at the West House after taking care of war business during the daytime.

William T. West and Abel K. West were key individuals in Sandusky’s early days. Abel K. West died on April 16, 1880. William T. West died at the West House on June 13, 1809. His obituary in the Firelands Pioneer stated that the greater part of William T. West’s eighty-four years “were devoted to business and the erection of buildings in the city of Sandusky.”

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