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Welcome to the Russell Hotel

Prior to 1919 it was the largest building on Bluffton's Main Street

If you can identify this Bluffton location, then you must be a time traveler.

Here's an extremely rare glimpse of Main Street Bluffton prior to 1900. The photograph is a tintype measuring 6 1/2 by 9 inches. Of all the tintype photos taken of Bluffton, this is the largest we've ever seen.

The photograph shows the Russell Hotel. It was once located where the Citizens National Bank is today on the west side of Main Street. There are other photos of the hotel that can be seen in early Bluffton post cards of Main Street.

There are several interesting things to point on in this photo.

• First, the sign above the front door reads: "50,000 pounds of wool wanted."

•Next, examine the sidewalk. This one appears to be brick blocks of some type, which is an improvement over the wooden sidewalk that it replaced.

• The street is not yet paved.

•The persons in the photo, who must be the Russell family, put on their best set of clothing for the photo.

• Even on a bright summer day, when this photo was taken, the people in the photo were required to stand very still - probably for a few seconds - as the "slow" shutter on the camera recorded the image.

• Notice that the two little girls were impatient, and moved, thus blurring their faces. The little boy, however, is standing as straight as a soldier.

• Now look at the second floor window. All the windows are open and a birdcage is on the ledge of one of the windows.

What became of the Russell Hotel?

Unfortunately the entire hotel block burned in a fire in 1919. The loss was $100,000. Today that calculates to nearly $1.4 million.

According to "Town and the Fork of the Rileys" the fire occurred on May 30, 1919. A blaze broke out in the early morning in the Lugibihl and Son Hardware. Flames spread rapidly and when the fire finally died out, the Lugibihl building had been razed as well as the Russell Hotel.

Discovered at 2 a.m., the fire was fought by Bluffton and Lima firemen until long after daylight before it was brought under control.


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