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bennet

Nothing today remains on the northeast corner of Seventh and P streets to compare to this late 1880s view of the Bennett Hotel. One sign on the hotel shows 'Bennett' and the other spells it 'Bennet.' Today Lazlo's sits on the ground floor of the current brick building, which was completed in 1915.

As you walk the Historic Haymarket area today it is impossible to envision it as being scantily populated with a few small houses and equally small shops. Before the arrival of the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad in 1870 however the land west of today’s Ninth Street was on the edge of the then unstraightened Salt Creek floodplain.

Then, with the railroads, the houses were razed and replaced with wholesale, distribution and manufacturing businesses as well as hotels interested in being near the newly arrived passengers.

In the 1867 plat of Lincoln’s Block 32, bounded by P, Q, Seventh and Eighth streets, a couple of blocks east of the then channel of Salt Creek, there were 20 small lots. In the replat of about 1880 the residential-sized lots became eight north/south aligned lots.

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Early Haymarket
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Government Square
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Renovating the depot
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Bennett Hotel
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Hay Market Area

The small “Hurd’s coal & wood office” sat incongruously in the intersection of Seventh and P streets, and a foundry occupied the present Creamery Building’s site. Most of Block 32 was owned by the Atchison & Nebraska Railroad while a small, unnamed hotel sat on the northeast corner of Seventh and P. That small hotel was actually a cottonwood house which had been converted in 1871 with the arrival of the railroad while, perhaps only months later, the Midland Pacific Hotel was built at about Fifth and O streets.

John Adam Fedewa was born in Prussia in 1827, immigrating to the U.S. in 1842. After several moves and serving with the Ohio Volunteers in the Civil War, Fedewa moved to Lincoln in 1869 where he owned the Farmer’s Home Hotel on the northeast corner of 10th and N streets. About 1875 he acquired the old cottonwood National Hotel at 704 P, just east of the northeast corner of Seventh and P streets. John died in 1888 with the hotel then operated by his wife Margaret. In 1892 Margaret moved to the northwest corner of 42nd and Vine streets leaving the hotel briefly vacant. Just a block north at 236-248 North Seventh Street was Tiernan’s Saloon and Hotel where Andrew Mooney was a cook.

John R. Bennett moved from Peru, Nebraska, to Lincoln in 1891, opened a lunchroom at 212 North Seventh Street just north of the National Hotel and, with A. N. Wycoff, operated a tobacco and confectionery just west of the hotel in a tiny, frame building. By 1895 the National Hotel had been renamed the Bennett Hotel with Mrs. Carrie M. Reaves as manager and a small railroad ticket broker in the old tobacco store west of the hotel operated by T. C. Bennett.

The 1905 city directory shows the Bennett ticket office on the corner but, interestingly and probably erroneously, in three distinct listings in the directory, calls the hotel at 712 P Street the Tremont Hotel operated by Mrs. C. M. Reaves. The 1910 directory shows the Bennett Restaurant on the northeast corner of Seventh and P has replaced the ticket office but the hotel has converted back into the residence of Edward and Mary Wilson. The following year the Oriental Hotel is shown at 224 North Seventh with Patrick Mooney as proprietor, perhaps explaining the Bennett Hotel’s confusion with Mooney’s Hotel.

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The story clears up in 1915 as two brick buildings are constructed. John Bennett’s extant building replaced the old cottonwood house/hotel and the ticket office as a $20,000, three-story, brick hotel and a one-story, two-bay brick building with a café and shop was constructed at 206 North Seventh Street.

In 1917 John and Albert Bennett operated the hotel and restaurant with the building to the north later becoming Frank Pusateri’s Restaurant and the Checker Cab Company. Through the 1930s, the north building housed a number of restaurants and soft drink shops. Daisy Bennett assumed the hotel and restaurant by 1940, while the north building was all taken over by the Yellow Cab Company, which also owned Checker Cabs. By the 1950s the hotel had become mostly occupied by railroad workers while the restaurant, open 24 hours a day, was a favorite of university students, who affectionately referred to it as the Café Benét, as well as railroad passengers. An ad in 1960 showed the Bennett Hotel as being established in 1884.

Eddie Fristoe assumed both café and hotel as what was named Eddie’s Bluebird Restaurant and Hotel about 1965, then it sat empty in 1970 before becoming the Russian Inn and Tavern in1975 and later the Side Track Tavern with no indication that the second and third floor were occupied.

Scott Boles, Brian Boles and Jay Jarvis opened Lazlo’s Restaurant east of the hotel building at 710 P Street while the three story hotel became a vertical collection of small shops known as Haymarket Junction, transitioning through Jabrisco’s, Fireworks to today’s Lazlo’s Restaurant/Brewery, all under the Telesis umbrella, leaving the 710 P Street building store front for lease or sale.

Historian Jim McKee, who still writes with a fountain pen, invites comments or questions. Write to him in care of the Journal Star or at jim@leebooksellers.com

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