Old Kent hotel needs repairs

By Diane Smith Record-Courier staff writer Published:

The owner of the old Kent Hotel building said he plans to repair the roofing problems that drew city inspectors to the site.

Joseph Bujack, owner of the landmark structure at the corner of East Main and South Depeyster Street, said he plans to repair the roof damage as soon as his insurance company permits him to do so.

"I'm going to fix the roof because of the tenants downstairs," he said.

Twenty years ago, the upper floors of the building were closed due to wiring, plumbing and safety concerns.

Last week, firefighters and the inspector examined the roof of the building on a ladder truck after the fire department received a complaint of something hanging off the side corner of the building, which turned out to be a piece of metal roofing material. The piece of metal was removed, but the city's building inspector and fire department decided a more thorough inspection was warranted.

Fire Chief James Williams said there were some concerns, but would not say what they were because he had not yet discussed them with Bujack. The building inspector's report was not yet available.

The health department also investigated and found evidence that pigeons had again invaded the upper floors of the building, a problem that has occurred at the site before. Bujack will be asked to fix the boards on the windows and get rid of the pigeons.

The upper floors of the building were condemned for habitation in 1979 after citations were issued for substandard wiring and plumbing. The lower two floors were renovated and now house several tenants, including Mooney's Goose, Trendsetters and the Cornerstone Cafe.

Bujack blamed the damage to the roof on the high winds the area experienced last week.

The hotel was originally called the Franklin and was dedicated in 1920. Once the focal point in downtown Kent, it housed notables such as Guy Lombardo and Glenn Miller during its heyday in the late 1930s and 1940s. It also housed many traveling salesman and administrators and professors at Kent Sate University.

For many years, the hotel was a social center for the community, with its coffee shop, banquet hall and bars. In the 70s, the building was renamed the Town House and operated primarily as a boarding house for KSU students until 1979, when it was deemed unfit for habitation.

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