Now, the Grand Wayne Center may be Fort Wayne’s newest shelter for visitors and travelers, but its not the city's first.
In fact, the Grand Wayne is just the newest kid on a very historic block.
The expanded Grand Wayne Center it is hoped, will draw tourists and travelers to downtown Fort Wayne.
But that mission is nothing new to this particular Summit City neighborhood.
In fact, this part of downtown west of the courthouse has been bedding travelers for more than a century.
This is the part of town Fort Wayne’s grand old hotels always called home…mainly because America’s first trans-continental highway, the Lincoln Highway, passed right through it.
Travelers on the Lincoln Highway arrived in Fort Wayne on Washington Boulevard, then turned north on Harrison to take them out of town and on to Chicago.
But most travelers stopped in Fort Wayne for the night.
The Keenan Hotel was a big draw.
Located on the west side of Harrison right where the Grand Wayne Center addition now stands, the Keenan offered clean, comfortable quarters at a good price.
The hotel stood until 1974, when it was reduced to rubble by hundreds of pounds of strategically placed dynamite.
Just up Harrison, a block or so from the Keenan, was the luxurious Anthony Hotel, actually an official station along the Lincoln Highway.
The Anthony was something special.
Guests arrived in the magnificent marble lobby, capped by a massive stained glass dome.
The rooms were luxurious...the food served in the spacious dining halls was excellent.
The Anthony boasted its own barber shop in the basement, a tobacco shop on the first floor and, of course, a well appointed bar.
No matter which downtown hotel the traveler chose, the latest movies and vaudeville acts were just a stones throw away at the magnificent Jefferson Theatre, and across the street at the Emboyd...now the Embassy Theatre.
The great hotels are gone now.
Only the Indiana remains to give us a taste of what once was.
And now we have the new improved Grand Wayne...picking up where some very classy predecessors left off.
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