Abundant lodging places are necessary in any growing and prospering town. Hawley, Pennsylvania has seen at least 16 hotels within its borders, since the first one that has been identified, opened to the public in 1850.
HAWLEY - Abundant lodging places are necessary in any growing and prospering town. Hawley, Pennsylvania has seen at least 16 hotels within its borders, since the first one that has been identified, opened to the public in 1850.
This was a pivotal year for Hawley, with the arrival of the Pennsylvania Coal Company (PCC). They established the gravity railroad into Hawley, to transfer coal to the waiting canal boats. Hawley had been only a very small hamlet to this point, and its name was Paupack Eddy. The PCC was responsible for both a population and economic boom. Waves of Irish laborers and German merchants arrived. The PCC laid out more streets and the town flourished. It was renamed “Hawley” for the PCC’s first president, Irad Hawley.
Irad Hawley came from New York; accounts of any visits he made here are yet to found. No doubt he would have stayed in the grand hotel PCC opened in 1850, the Ewen House. It was one of several hotels started here in 1850 or in the next few years.
Harvey C. Nash
An account has been found in the December 5, 1850 edition of The Herald (published in Honesdale), about Hawley’s sudden growth and a hotel that was being completed by Harvey C. Nash.
By the description, this hotel may have been the Ewen House, which was the largest structure in the village. It was located on the corner of what we refer to as Hudson Street (Route 6) and Spruce Street, where Hawley Medical Center is today. Directly across the street was the site of a future lodging place, The Settlers Inn.
“Barely three years ago, four or five houses and a few acres of cultivated lands, marked the spot, whereon, may now be seen this large and thriving village, numbering hundreds of handsome dwellings, five taverns, several large machine shops, numerous stores and groceries in abundance,” The Herald reported.
“... Upon the eastern side of the Canal Mr. H.C. Nash is now completing the largest and undoubtedly the most conveniently arranged hotel in the county or in the northern part of the State. It is four stories high, conveniently located, skillfully contrived, with a two story piazza fronting the south and west, and in every particular this magnificent building is well calculated to make a pleasant and comfortable home for all persons, reflecting much credit upon the ingenuity and enterprise of its builder.”
The Herald continued, “Mr. A. B. Edwards, formerly of this place, has rented this place for a term of years, and knowing his gentlemanly and affable qualities, and the kindness and activity of his assistants, we can safely say, that none who favor him with a call, can fail of being comfortably lodged and bountifully entertained. His house is furnished throughout with new and excellent furniture, together with other fixture(s) necessary to meet the wants of his customers.”
An article from July 1851 mentioned the Ewen House, operated by A. B. Edwards. It described a ‘large and commodious hall” which evoked “a sense of splendor and our astonished gaze.” At the head of the room was a portrait of George Washington, surrounded by a wreath of evergreens and 13 stars recalling the original colonies. There were “splendid chandeliers” that cast a soft and mellow illumination.
The 1850 story credits Mr. Nash for the hotel and makes no connection to the PCC.
Michael J. McAndrew, in his 1927 book on Hawley’s history, stated that the PCC had built the Ewen House, naming it for the company’s treasurer, General John Ewen. This individual succeeded Irad Hawley as the PCC’s president.
An 1850-51 business directory listed H.C. Nash as having a hotel in Hawley, “Nash’s”, but no listing was made for Ewen House.
The Herald, however, linked Nash with the Ewen House in an item published in 1853, as we shall see.
The Ewen House had 50 rooms, and every June the PCC put up their guests here that would arrive for the company’s annual meeting. These were gala events, complete with a brass band, grand ball and fireworks.
The main offices of the PCC were in Dunmore, where the gravity railroad connected, on its way to the PCC’s coal mines in the Pittston area. A fleet of passenger coaches rode the gravity tracks, one of which is owned and displayed by the Hawley Public Library.
In front of the Ewen House was the Plank Road, a toll road now known as Route 6, which connected with Honesdale. It extended down what we refer to as Hudson Street in Hawley, with a busy commercial district facing the large canal basin the PCC had built where the park is today.
A photo of the Ewen House shows the porches on the south side, facing the Plank Road and appears to wrap around to the east side (facing what is now Spruce Street). The west side, however, is clearly shown but lacks porches as the description for Nash’s hotel reads.
Either there is an error about the directions the porches faced, or Nash had a completely different building.
From 1851 to 1853, there was a post office at the Ewen House, located in the basement. E. Richardson was postmaster. This section was known as East Hawley.
There was also a post office on the west side of the Lackawaxen River at that time, at the corner of what we call River Street and Wangum Avenue. (There is evidence that Hawley at that was split by the Middle Creek, between Paupack Township and Palmyra Township. Hawley did not form its own borough until 1884.)
Only a little more has been found about Harvey C. Nash.
He may have come down from Binghamton, NY. A news brief in a Binghamton paper from 1843 reports of a dress shop that had opened in August, “nearly opposite the Binghamton Hotel, recently occupied by Harvey C. Nash.”
It seems that nearly every hotel then - and now - is described as also having a barroom. A news article in The Herald, dated March 27, 1850, seems to indicate that Mr. Nash was a teetotaler. “Another Nail in King Alcohol’s Coffin,” the headline reads. The story reported that a few of the friends of the Temperance Reformation met the week before “in the new and thriving village of Hawley” and organized a Division of the Sons of Temperance, No. 424, under the guidance of the Grand Division of the State of Pennsylvania.
The District Deputy installed officers of the Hawley group. The first name listed was Harvey Nash, W.P.
“W.P.” stood for “Worthy Patriarch” and was the leader of the division.
Sons of Temperance organized as a brotherhood of men in 1842 in New York City. Hawley, Pa. had a strong temperance movement through the last half of 19th century and early 20th century, countered by a proliferation of drinking establishments and its own brewery.
Appearing to contradict this assessment, however, is the 1850 census for Hawley. Harvey C. Nash is listed as an “innkeeper” and among those living there was “D.V. Gitns” whose occupation was “barkeeper.”
No other Harvey C. Nash was found in the census search for Hawley.
The 1850 census record shows that Nash was 37, born around 1813, in New York State. Who we might assume was his wife, was Adelade Nash, 33. There was a girl living there as well, Marcy Nash, 11- likely their daughter, as well as a man, S. B. Nash, 21, who was a merchant. In all, 16 people were residing there.
A.B. Edwards’ name was not located in the census for Hawley.
It appears, however, that Nash did not have the hotel for long. A Sheriff’s Sale notice was posted in The Herald in June 1853. Sheriff Thomas Grier was putting up the property of Harvey C. Nash for public sale on July 16, 1853, at the courthouse.
His property was described as being four lots on First Street and Second Street (what we know as Hudson and Spruce), and containing “a hotel called the Ewen House, a barn and other outbuildings.”
H.C. Nash was involved in some litigation in Wayne County Court. In 1851- 1852, Shopland & Haskins vs. H.C. Nash was awaiting a jury trial, in a case of a mechanic’s lien. The outcome was not found.
In another action, Nash vs. Pennsylvania Coal Company was on the September 1855 trial term. The outcome was not found.
A news brief from September 1857 tells of a verdict in favor of the defendant, in the case of the Wyoming Coal Association vs. Harvey C. Nash.
What became of Nash has not been verified. Whether the following records refer to the same man, has not been confirmed.
An 1860 census record was found for Harvey Nash, 47 and born in New York State, but living in Chicago, Illinois. His wife, “Adelaid” Nash was 43, and also from New York. Mr. Nash was not working in the hotel trade, but was listed as a railroad depot master.
An 1870 census record listed a Harvey C. Nash, 66, born in New York State, and living in Greene, Chenango County, NY. His wife was listed as Eliza H., ahe 64. Also in the home were William O. Nash, 27, a miller, Martha Nash, 23 and a two year old boy, Willie Nash.
A death certificate shows a “Harvey O. Nash” who died June 11, 1875 at the 71, in Guilford, Chenango County, NY. His wife was “Elizabeth A. Nash.” Possibly her middle name was Adelade and had been known by that name.
The same record says that Mr. Nash was born June 11, 1813 in Gilbertsville, Otsego County, NY.
The Ewen House continued, under several other changes of management.
In December 1875, the grand hotel was destroyed by fire.
The PCC chose not to rebuild. A news item in The Hawley Times from 1876 states that the PCC instead decided to use their surplus funds to lay flagstone sidewalks on Hawley’s streets.
The PCC gravity railroad was discontinued in 1885, the year after Hawley had become a borough.
The site was purchased in January 1898 for a grocery market, and remained a grocery site until 1995.
In 2010 the Hawley Medical Center opened in the corner. Of interest, 135 years before, on October 13, 1875, the Wayne County Medical Center met at the Ewen House.