A Place to Sit and Talk: The Walsh Hotel in Madinah is Open Again | Lifestyles

MEDINA — A historical monument in the village has reopened after being totally remodeled by its new owner.

Tim Cooper, a local funeral director, purchased the Walsh Hotel in March 2019. Cooper operated the Cooper Funeral Home on West Center Street with his assistant Jake Hebdon. On December 29, 2018, Hebdon took over the funeral home and three months later Cooper negotiated with Guy Chiarolanza to buy the Walsh.

“I had watched it in December 2018 when Polar Express was running at the Medina Railroad Museum,” Cooper said. “There were a lot of people and I thought it presented an opportunity.”

The history of the Walsh Hotel dates back to 1852 when the Rochester, Lockport and Niagara Falls Company completed the railroad through Medina. Previously, hotels and taverns sprung up alongside the Erie Canal basin, but the development of the railroad had an immediate effect on the canal. Soon the New York Central Railroad Company was the main transportation provider.

The first depot was a small stone building near the railroad on West Avenue, and the adjacent land on the west side of the street was the obvious site for a hotel, a waiting and meeting place for travellers, to especially since the deposit offered sparse comfort. .

Aaron Clark (who also built the Alabama Hotel) licensed the Clark Hotel in 1861 and sold it to Frank Sloat in 1884. Later Thomas Lysett owned it. Eugene Walsh bought it in 1903 and renovated and expanded it with 38 rooms.

In 1904, Francis Burton Harrison, Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor, arrived by train to campaign at the hotel, then dined at Bent’s Opera House. Although he did not win, he became Governor General of the Philippines.

In 1916, New York attorney Grace Humiston was there to defend the innocence of West Shelby resident George Stielow, who had been wrongfully accused of murdering his employer. Humiston would later prove Stielow’s innocence by using forensics for the first time to solve a murder.

Babe Ruth stayed at the Walsh in 1920.

Adolph S. Ochs Jr., publisher of the New York Times, had lunch there in 1925.

An article in the June 30, 1938, edition of the Medina Tribune reported that any man in western New York who was asked if he knew where the Walsh Hotel was would beam with gratitude from memories of “steaks succulent, grilled chicken and braised chicken. short ribs of beef, all served with steaming bowls of sauce.

Historical accounts say that Walsh “practically built” the hotel into one of the most modern hotels between Buffalo and Rochester, with 38 cheerful bedrooms, each furnished with electric lights and electric call bells, the heat from steam and “careful attention to sanitary conditions.” The hotel was frequented by traveling salesmen and local businessmen, and professionals lunched there regularly. business, bridge tournaments and dinner parties, all of which sustained him through Prohibition and the Great Depression.

Frank Cardone bought the Walsh in 1941 and remodeled it after the bar burned down in 1959. He ran it until 1977 when he sold it to Guy Chiarolanza. No food or drink was sold there in recent years and it operated strictly as a guesthouse.

After its purchase, Cooper spent three years totally remodeling the ground floor. The floor remains a work in progress. He has no plans to open a restaurant inside, but does offer sandwiches from Sourced Market and Eatery.

Cooper’s renovation included gutting the bar, adding a window for more light, moving the staircase to the outside of the building, removing an ice box, moving a wall, the establishment of a second bar on the north side in a room called the O’Brien and Ceallaigh (Irish spelling of Kelly) Tap Room. This room is available for hire for private parties and social gatherings.

He also upgraded the heating and air conditioning, did a lot of painting, maintained the ceiling and tin paneling, and made improvements to the roof and siding.

Cooper hired two bartenders whose history is linked to each other and to Cooper.

Both Marc Law and David Minervino grew up in Medina and have been lifelong friends. Cooper’s older brother, Jim and Marc, went to school together. Marc’s grandmother was Mildred Cleary, who owned Cleary Funeral Home on Park Avenue and was instrumental in Cooper’s decision to become a funeral director.

Cooper was working on the hotel building one day when Law stopped by and offered to help him if he got to that point.

“I finally got to this point,” Cooper said.

Law left Medina for 35 years, pursuing a career in hotel, restaurant and bar management. He started running a bar in 2010 and worked in West Virginia and Southern California, before returning to Medina 10 years ago.

He enjoys tending the bar because, he says, “it’s such a positive atmosphere and you constantly meet people.”

Minervino worked at Kodak for 22 years and was a dealer in a casino for four years. He worked for Chiarolanza for three years in the late 1970s, and at Tillman’s Village Inn for 30 years until it closed in December 2021.

Like Law, he enjoys being a bartender because of the social activity and all the people he meets.

Cooper also has family experience in the tavern/bar business. Edward Kelly, who built O’Brien’s Pub on Main Street, was her great-grandfather. Cooper’s grandfather, Francis O’Brien, married Kelly’s daughter, Margaret, and they ran the pub as O’Brien’s and Kelly’s. Hence the name Cooper (O’Brien and Ceallaigh) on his valve room.

Irish influence also includes Cooper’s wife, Catherine, from County Kerry.

Cooper said it is interesting to note that in ancient Ireland the owner of a pub in a rural area was usually the undertaker.

In restoring the Walsh, Cooper said his aim was to create something the area lacked: the ability to walk into a pub and talk.

“People who come here feel really refreshed,” Minervino said. ” They are talking to each other. There are no cell phones, no televisions, just old fashioned conversation.

Cooper said the Walsh is ideally ready for a new chapter.

“The Walsh is a survivor,” he said. “He has character. It survived the decline of the railroad, Prohibition, the Depression, and massive social change. It started and flourished due to its proximity to the railroad and I think it’s come full circle. It will benefit the Railway Museum of Medina and the museum will benefit. There are a few more chapters in Walsh’s story. It’s still a landmark – and a fiery, enduring landmark.

The Walsh Hotel is open from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursday and from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The phone number is 585-318-5027.

Comments are closed.