Ridgway in Elk County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Ridgway "Lily of the Valley"
By the late 1800s, Ridgway was a bustling business center and thriving community. In 1895, 2500 people lived in Ridgway. Fifteen years later, the town's population swelled to its peak of 6,700 residents, far more than live here today. Joseph Smith Hyde anticipated this growth, and in 1858 erected a hotel on this site to match it. Officially opened with a grand ball in 1859, the 125-room Hyde Hotel offered visitors a commanding view of Ridgway's town center.
A hub of community life, the hotel was a natural gathering place for community celebrations and business meetings. As Ridgway evolved, so did the hotel. Hyde sold the hotel only a few years after building it, and a series of owners left their marks upon it.
In 1890, one portion of the hotel was turned to face Broad Street, and a year later, fire destroyed another section. In 1912, Milton Wood overhauled the hotel, adding an elevator, new water and heating systems, a telephone in every room, and new entrances on Main Street and North Broad Streets.
In 1965, the hotel was leveled to make way for a national chain hotel, a venture that never materialized.
Ridgway's economy flourished in the decades following construction of the Hyde Hotel, reaching its apex in the early 1900s. By 1920, resources that had fueled the boom-hemlock bark for tanning leather and large-diameter hardwoods and softwoods for lumber milling-were largely depleted. Without these staples, industry gradually declined, as did Ridgway's population.
Great American Success Story
Joseph Smith Hyde's business success in Ridgway is legendary. Yet he arrived in Ridgway in 1837 with nothing but determination. Early on, he dug ditches, farmed, and worked in lumber camps. In 1842, he married Jane Gillis, daughter of Ridgway pioneer Enos Gillis. Five years later, he bought a small sawmill and 400 acres of timber land. From that time until his death in 1888, he launched many business ventures, including the Hall, Kaul, and Hyde Store; Hyde, Kline and Company machine plant; and the world-renowned Hyde-Murphy Company.
Community celebration in front of the Hyde Hotel
Joseph Smith Hyde
All photos courtesy Elk County Historical Society
Erected by Stackpole-Hall Foundation.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Industry & Commerce. A significant historical year for this entry is 1895.
Location. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 301 Main Street, Ridgway PA 15853, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 9 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Hall, Kaul, and Hyde Store (within shouting distance of this marker); Ridgway Opera House (within shouting distance of this marker); Elk County (within shouting distance of this marker); Veterans Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker); Elk County Courthouse (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Calvin and Juliet McCauley Mansion (about 400 feet away); James Gallagher Home (about 600 feet away); Pioneer Cemetery (approx. 8.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Ridgway.
Credits. This page was last revised on September 3, 2022. It was originally submitted on August 28, 2022, by Bradley Owen of Morgantown, West Virginia. This page has been viewed 144 times since then and 84 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on August 28, 2022, by Bradley Owen of Morgantown, West Virginia. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.