GALION — During its nearly two centuries of existence, one of the oldest commercial buildings in Galion has gone through many changes. Nonetheless, Central Hotel has remained perched in the heart of the city, on downtown square’s southwest corner, since the mid-19th century.
Guests at the regal brick structure, located at 10 Public Square, have run the gamut from Ohio native Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Alexander Graham Bell to Mark Twain and former presidents. Rumors are that Bell and Edison once had an argument in the hotel’s hallway about who really invented the light bulb.
Originally a two-story building, it grandly reopened only seven years ago as senior apartments for those over age 55.
Boasting 30 units, a community room and more, recently several residents shared why they chose Central Hotel and what it’s like living around such history.
“I was looking for senior citizen living,” said Bev Schoonover, who moved to Galion from the Ontario-Mansfield area. “I’ve been here a year and I love it. I think the whole town is great. It’s a pretty building and just felt right.”
Others mentioned the good location, comfort, security, and ability to walk to shops in Galion’s Uptowne Business District.
The residents enjoy camaraderie, including weekly bingo, Yahtzee, playing cards, and potluck meals.
Out of roughly 35 residents, most live alone in one, two, or three bedroom suites with one or two bathrooms. Some have cats, and Lenna Finch has the only dog, 7-year-old Maggie.
Some followed family to central Ohio or came from other states like Florida and Texas. Others downsized from larger, more rural homes.
Now they welcome their children and grandchildren for visits, hold July 4 gatherings, Christmas events with school kids, barbecues, birthday and graduation parties — and, yes, relay ghost stories.
“I have a ghost that I can feel even when I am fast asleep,” Audrey Medley, who moved to Central Hotel to be closer to her brother in Crestline, explained. “And when I first moved here, every time I would say “ghost,” my phone would go off.”
Others claim they can still smell cigar smoke in the hall, potentially from visitors long ago.
Gloria Buchanan has been a building resident since 2016. Her sister lived here back in a prior era before the most-recent wholesale renovations.
Jack Harpst, a congenial man with a knack for humor, says he looks forward to what, if any, changes lay ahead for Central Hotel.