If you live in Columbus you've probably seen the Hartman Hotel; it stands at the northwest corner of South Fourth and Main downtown. Up until 1995 a Huntington Bank branch occupied the first floor of the building, but its history stretches back much further than that.
Dr. Samuel J. Hartman was the Les Wexner of the Gilded Age. At the turn of the century he made millions from Peruna, a snake oil patent medicine which was more alcohol than anything else; Hartman sold it as a cure-all and made enough money to purchase miles of land on the southern edge of Franklin County, where yours truly now resides. At one time he owned the largest functioning farm in the world--take a look at the remains of the Hartman Farm schoolhouse sometime.
Hartman also built the gigantic brick building at 150 East Main Street. His name is still at the peak of the roof. The Hartman Hotel was half hotel, half sanatorium--much like Battle Creek, Michigan's Kellogg Institute from The Road to Wellville. Presumably, the Peruna flowed like water. The Hotel featured lectures, lodging, and a lavish ballroom on the sixth floor. When Hartman died in 1912 after he contracted pneumonia while inspecting his farm fields in the snow, he did it in a room on the third floor of this building. His body was viewed in the hotel lobby before its burial. Hartman wasn't the only well-known person to live in the building; Governor Andrew Harris took up residence there in 1906.
S. B. Hartman
Early views of the hotel
In 1921 the building was sold to the state and became Ohio's first Bureau of Motor Vehicles, which it remained until the 1970's. In 1926 the Market Exchange Bank moved into the first floor. In the 60's Huntington acquired the Market Exchange and changed its name. After the Huntington moved out in 1995 the building stood empty in a generally depressed section of downtown. Then, in 1998, the building was purchased by a partnership for $500,000--thankfully, not to be demolished, but to be rented out as a banquet facility, among other things. Now (2003) work is done and you can have your wedding at the Hartman, if you're so inclined. They sandblasted the exterior, repainted it, and even built a glass-enclosed fire escape in the rear. So it's definitely not abandoned anymore. The new Hartman's official website is thehartman.com.
In early March of 2000, Rookie and I ventured into the wide-open building by way of Fourth Street. This was a cooperative effort between Forgotten Ohio and Rookie's website, Illicit Ohio. Check it out for more pics from the inside of the Hartman Hotel.
Click below for a tour of the different areas of the then-abandoned hotel.