Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Why Leland is called Leland

Original Beacon News Article
December 21, 1927
  On my last post regarding the newspaper article from November 28, 1927, they stated that the new hotel being built on the corner of Main St and Island Ave (Galena Blvd and Stolp Ave now), was going to be named "The Illinois". When did it get changed to "Leland Hotel" and why? Well, just a few months later on December 21, 1927, it was announced that the hotel will now be named "Leland Hotel".  The "Illinois" which was owned by the Aurora Building Corporation, merged with the Continental Properties Corporation which was based in Detroit Michigan. The Continental Properties Corporation owned the "Leland chain of hotels", so basically like the Hilton or the Sheraton type of hotel chains that we are familiar with (well, the folks from my age demographic!) Here is the following article from an issue from the Beacon News, December 21, 1927.
Owners of Big Detroit Hostelry Take Over Operating Lease on Local Property. 
H.P. Heiss Sells Interests.
Announcement was made today of the purchase of the new 21 story Illinois hotel, Main street and Island avenue, by the Continental Properties corporation, Detroit, Mich. The sale was consummated by merger of the Aurora Building corporation, which owned the building and the Illinois Hotel company, which held the operating lease, into a new company, know as the Fox Valley Hotel company. All stock in the latter has been acquired by the Continental Properties corporation. The amount of the transaction was not made known. The building was erected at a cost of about $1,000,000.

A contract for the operation of the hotel has been given to the Continental Leland corporation, which is now operating a sting of six other hotels over the country, including the widely known Detroit-Leland. The hotel here will be known as the Aurora-Leland.

H.P. Heiss Out
H.P. Heiss, president of the Aurora Building corporation, said today that all of his holdings have been sold to the Continental Properties company as have those of John M. Mann, president of the Illinois Hotel company, and N. Mowatt, who came here in the capacity of manager of the  hotel. "While Mr. Mann and Mr. Mowatt have disposed of their holdings," W. L. Scott, vice president and treasurer of the Continental Leland company said, "I am not in a position to say whether or not they will be affiliated in the operation of the Aurora-Leland. At this time, plans for the management of the property have not been completed."
Besides the Detroit-Leland of 700 rooms, at Detroit, Mich., and the new Aurora-Leland of 206 rooms, the Continental Leland company operates Hotel Olds, 300 rooms, Lansing, Mich., the Mansfield-Leland, 150 rooms, Mansfield, OH, Sedgefield inn, 150 rooms, Greensboro, N.C., Lake Lure inn, 75 rooms, Chimney Rock, N.C., and the Bankhead-Leland, 400 rooms, Birmingham AL.

Furniture is Here
Furniture is being moved into the new Aurora-Leland, and while everything will be ready within a few days, the actual date of the opening has not been determined, Mr. Scott said. "We are very anxious to make the opening date as early as possible," he said, "and are rushing the furnishings as rapidly as possible."

With that said, I did a little more digging on the name change and who/what was the
Henry M. Leland

Continental Properties company... and why the name "Leland". As you read above, there is more than one Leland. Granted, ours is pretty special. It was the tallest building outside of Chicago at the time, we have the Bluebird Studio in the Sky Club (I'll have more on that in a later post!) I was pretty astounded finding out there was more than one "Leland". The Continental Properties company had its roots in Detroit, the name they chose is named after Henry M. Leland, he invented the Cadillac and the Lincoln.  Henry Martyn Leland (February 16, 1843-March 26, 1932) was a machinist, inventor, engineer and automotive entrepreneur.He had learned precision toolmaking rifles during the Civil War and later invented the first mechanical barber's clippers  
He founded Cadillac in 1902 after Oldsmobile wasn't interested in his improved automobile engine. He then sold Cadillac to General Motors in 1909. In 1917 he formed the Lincoln Motor Company to build aircraft engines for use in World War 1. In 1919 he developed the Lincoln automobile. If you look up Henry Leland, it is a very interesting history, sad ending but still interesting. 

So the Leland was named after a fellow from Detroit.

Back to the hotel chain... 

As I mentioned, the company has roots in Detroit. The Detroit-Leland is still standing granted it is a bit run down but from what I had read, the current owners are trying to get it restored to its original 1927 splendor. 1927? Yes, this Leland was built before ours. Guess who designed it? Rapp & Rapp architects who were more known to design theaters in the Chicago area. They designed well over 400 theaters and also designed the Oriental Theater in Chicago and our one and only Paramount Theater in Aurora. Here is another interesting fact, Rapp & Rapp originally employed Graven & Mayger, who had designed the Aurora Leland Hotel. Some of the interior designs are very similar, especially with the ceiling design and the theatrical style painting.

So not only does our Leland have inspiration from Chicago and Paris, it also has inspiration from Motor City, Detroit!  I do hope you enjoyed this historical tidbit about our one and only Leland. I know some folks love reading the history about this mysterious building. I truly appreciate you taking the time to read my posts and if you have anything you'd like me to find about Leland, you can always find me on Facebook! 

Take care and stay safe out there!

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