Allentown’s Hotel is One of the Best

The following article originally appeared in the Allentown Messenger May 2, 1907.

THE UNION HOTEL [DiMattia’s] property, of which E. T. Weaver is now proprietor, is the oldest hotel stand in Allentown. It was in this house in November, 1818, that a meeting of citizens was held for the purpose of organizing a fire company, and which resulted in the formation of the Perseverance Fire Company.


The proprietor at that time was William Arnold. For many years afterwards the house was a favorite stopping place for carriage travelers on their way from Philadelphia to Long Branch, many of whom remained over night. This was during the proprietorship of Mrs. Rebecca Forman, who succeeded her late husband in the business.


After the death of Mrs. Forman, the property came into possession of her son-in-law, J. Lawrence Hendrickson, who conducted the place as a temperance hotel for several years.


In those days the grounds at the rear were used for exhibition purposes, as there was then much more vacant space than at present. There could seen at times the old-fashioned circus, wild animal shows, etc.


These same grounds were also used occasionally as stock yards, for the sale of cattle, sheep, horses, all of which found ready sale in those times.


In 1872, when W. D. Conover was proprietor the building was enlarged by extending it northward. The apartment now used a barber shop had for its first tenant the late Judge Chillion Robbins, who here began his successful legal career, and remained here until his removal to Freehold.


The second floor of the extension, which was then one large apartment, was first occupied as a printing office by W. G. Hambly, who published the “Allentown Transcript,” which was the first newspaper published in our town. It was afterwards occupied by George M. Joy, who published the “Allentown Industry.”


The hotel in past years was on many occasions utilized for a court room, and some well-known legal men, now deceased, have pleaded their cases within its walls. Among these were A. G. Richey, of Trenton, Garret S. Cannon and Mahlon Hutchinson, of Bordentown, Joseph J. Ely, of Hightstown, and Thomas Middleton of Toms River. The presiding officer at these trials was the late John H. Rulon, of Allentown, who for a long term of years was Justice of the Peace here. Most of the trials were held during the proprietorship of Barzillia Johnson.


For some thirty years the hotel was used as a polling place for the spring and fall elections, the billiard room always being reserved for that purpose. It was during the proprietorship of W. D. Konover, in 1876, that the population of Allentown had increased sufficiently for it to have a polling place of its own, the voters previous to this having been compelled  to go to Imlaystown to cast their votes. The first election here in the above year and all thereafter was held at the hotel until the erection of the Borough Hall [Annex] in 1897.


For several years previous to the coming to Allentown of Mr. Weaver, the hotel was conducted by Gilbert Giberson. During the ownership of Mr. Giberson new buildings were erected at the rear, and the whole property was greatly improved.


Since Mr. Weaver has come into possession of the property some important changes have been effected. The building has been newly painted on the outside, and painting, papering and general renovations has been done in the interior of the hotel. What was formerly the billiard room is now the bar room, and the apartment that the latter occupied has been made been made into an office and reading room for convenience of commercial travelers and other guests. By means of folding doors into the office, the dining room can be doubled in size as the occasion requires.


Across the large hallway from these rooms is the parlor, to the rear of which and connected also with the hall, is a small office, with desk, writing materials, hotel stationery and other conveniences, all of which the traveling public is not slow to appreciate, as is attested by the constantly increasing number of guests which the old Union entertains.