Keeping in mind that the city of Manistee was once a large industrial center due to the production of lumber and salt, a lot of businessmen, workers, and travelers passed through the area on a regular basis. As such, if one needed a place to stay for a period of time a person would have many hotels and rooming houses to choose from.
While a lot has been written about some of these hotels, (e.g. the Dunham House/Hotel Chippewa, the Milwaukee House) because the buildings have existed in our lifetimes…what about the many other rooming houses in Manistee circa the late 19th Century and early 20th Century?
One of the more popular hotels in the city during this time was called The Eagle Hotel which was located at the corner of Smith and River streets at 283 River Street.
Records show that a building called The Eagle Hotel was first constructed on the property in the early 1870s but for some reason or another it was torn down with a new, brick building constructed on the same portion of land in 1877.
The hotel was constructed and operated by Joseph Radka (Radke) and became a well-regarded rooming house due to its location and solid reputation of its owner. A brief description of the business was published in the Manistee Times on January 8, 1879:
“This is another one of the several medium class hotels of our city. It is a handsome brick building located on River Street in the eastern part of the city. It is the property of Mr. Joseph Radka who knows how to keep such a place and is a most popular landlord with his patrons and acquaintances. It is worth about $3,000.”
Radke continued to operate the hotel until his passing in 1909. A few years later the building is listed as being a saloon operated by Frederick Zimmerman and later by Frank Switalski, Jr. During this time Joseph’s wife continued to make her home inside the building.
After sitting vacant for several years, the building was once again opened as a hotel and operated by Mrs. Marie Christensen as the Manistee Hotel. However, by the late 1940s, the building was torn down due to several factors including the deteriorating condition of the strucutre as well as a new route that was to be constructed for highway US-31.