Hotel Sheller, Historic Landmark

Nomination form prepared by Stephen A. Batzka, President, North Manchester Historical Society on January 30, 1981

Physical Appearance

The Hotel Sheller is situated on the northwest corner of Walnut and Second Streets, and one block north of Main Street in the town of North Manchester. Located in the commercial district, the hotel is surrounded by several other 19th and early 20th century buildings.

Constructed in 1881, the main hotel building is a 2 1/2 story, rectangular, red brick building. Utilizing the corner location, the builders of the Hotel Sheller gave it two main facades of similar design, the east elevation on Walnut Street and the south on Second Street. An angled corner, slightly recessed for emphasis, created by the angled corner, the window style and arrangement, and the sloping mansard roof.

The main entrance, located at the center of the angled corner, consists of a pair of doors with long, narrow lights and beveled panels. The lights and beveled panels are outlined with cream-colored trim. The door has an arched transom and brick architrave with pendants. Large, square windows flanking the entrance have cornices and do not appear to be original. The other doors across the first story have segmental arches with hood molding made of brick, similar to that over the door. All trim is painted a cream color to contrast with the wall surface.

The first story also features a simple wood porch which wraps around the building on its two main facades and angled corner. Turned wooden posts support the shingled roof of the porch. At the intersection of the porch roof and the exterior wall, a metal "cornice" marks the top of the first story and emphasizes the three-sided shape of the building. This cornice stops short of the end of the porch roof on the south elevation. The posts and cornice are painted cream.

On the second story, all windows are one-over-one, double-hung with segmental arches, and are capped with decorative brick arches like those below. The east elevation has three windows, while the longer south elevation has four. One window is centered in the angled corner.

Two metal string courses, painted red to match the bricks, run around the building at the top edge of the second story, forming a frieze punctuated by small windows and metal brackets. Frieze modillions support the cornice.

The third story, which was added in 1896, consists of a flat-topped mansard roof. Slightly gabled dormers are placed directly over the second-story windows and the small frieze windows. A narrow frieze above the row of dormers emphasizes the top edge of the building. A red brick chimney stands flush against the mansard roof on the south side.

On the north end of the main building is a three-story wing, which was added in 1896. A single wooden door, with beveled panels and a single upper light is the entrance on the wing's one-bay, south elevation. All windows are one-over-one double-hung, with segmentally arched tops. Awnings shade the first floor windows on the east side. Third-story windows are slightly smaller than those on the other two stories. A cornice of corbeled brick wraps around the top of the wing.

West of the main portion of the hotel is a two-story frame wing, constructed in 1847. This wing is the original structure on the site. It has been covered with asbestos siding, and painted red and cream to match the rest of the building. Two single doors are placed side-by-side on the north (rear) elevation. Three six-over-six, double-hung windows, presumably original, line the second story of this elevation.

Inside the main entrance is the lobby, with the dining room and kitchen behind. The kitchen still contains an original marble counter-top. From the lobby area on the first floor, a wide walnut staircase leads to the second floor. The arrangement of the hotel's 20 guest rooms remains much as it was originally.

Statement of Significance

The Hotel Sheller is significant as a rare local example of Second Empire architecture, and for the role it has played in the community of North Manchester. Although it began as a modest operation in a two-story frame building, the Sheller experienced two periods of expansion to become the premier hotel in North Manchester during the last two decades of the 19th century. The hotel has become something of a landmark in North Manchester with its Second Empire detailing, particularly the arched windows and hood moldings, ornate brackets, and mansard roof. It has played a significant role in the commercial life of North Manchester by providing accommodations for salesmen and businessmen. The Sheller is the oldest surviving hotel in the town.

In 1847 Henry Lentz built a frame, two-story structure on this site. At that time, the operation was known as the Lentz House. The Lentz House was only a second-rate establishment during this period. The nearby American House, with its business meeting rooms, saloon, restaurant, and barber shop was the leading hotel at this time.

In 1881, Rufus Grimes, owner of the American House, purchased the Lentz House and changed its name to Grimes House. After the American House burned to the ground during the winter of 1883, Grimes began to improve the Grimes House into a more substantial operation. Grimes moved the two-story frame structure 120 feet west on Second Street. He then constructed a two-story brick addition which is the present main building. In 1892, Mr. Grimes sold the hotel to Hollie B. Sheller, father-in-law of the present owner [Mrs. Jane Sheller], who added the mansard third floor.

With its increased capacity, the Sheller Hotel became the leading hotel in North Manchester. Because of its proximity to the business district, the Sheller became an important stop for businessmen who rode the trains from town to town. Salesmen used the first floor rooms of the frame building as showrooms for their wares. Because of its prime location, the hotel became the residence of many local bachelor businessmen.

In recent years, the Sheller Hotel has provided facilities for meetings and social functions of various community groups, including the North Manchester Women's Club, the local Rotary Club, Tri Kappa, the Fine Arts Club, and the Business and Professional Women's Club.

Legal Description

Lot number forty-eight (48) and the east twenty-eight (28) feet and four and one-half (4 1/2) inches of Lot Number forty-seven(47) in the original plat of Town of Manchester, now North Manchester. Except therefrom, the north forty (40) feet thereof.