Thanksgiving at The Vonhof

VonhofMenu

Much of the same traditional fare we enjoy today is on this menu from The Vonhof Hotel for Thanksgiving, 1894, including turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie and, one of the most popular foods at the time, raw oysters.  There is no price listed for the meal, but in 1899 an advertisement in The Mansfield Evening News listed an elaborate Thanksgiving dinner at The Vonhof for 75 cents.  By 1921 the price had doubled to $1.50.

29NOV1899p8MansfieldEveningNEWS

November 29, 1899, The Mansfield Evening News

22NOV1921p8MansfieldNEWS

November 22, 1921, The Mansfield News

According to an article in The Mansfield News shortly before his death, Louis Vonhof was born in Hesse Darmstadt, Germany on October 6, 1816 and came to America in 1840, landing in Baltimore after a 48 day voyage.  Before coming to America, Vonhof was an apprentice in Frankfort in upholstering, carriage trimming and saddlery and toured Europe.  Vonhof arrived in Mansfield on May 6, 1841. It was said his first meal was at the Teegarden House, which would later become The Vonhof Hotel.  It was not Vonhof’s intention to stay in Mansfield.  At the time, he considered himself a traveler, but after taking a job for three months at a local harness maker and saddler, he decided to make Mansfield his permanent home.  In 1845 he married Miss Catherine Cristman.

Vonhof became a “forty-niner” and headed west with eight other Mansfield men to strike it rich in California.  Vonhof didn’t make it rich in the mines, as he felt few would, instead he spent his time preforming more common jobs like sawing wood, working in a kitchen and running water wagons.  While in Sacramento, Vonhof ran into Dr. Teegarden who had opened a new hotel called The Mansfield Ohio House in that city.  Only two of the original 9 men survived the journey, Fred Walter and Mr. Vonhof.  After 18 months, Vonhof returned home, with $3,000, to spend the rest of his life in Mansfield.

The Teegarden house changed names several times.  It became known as The Weldon, when James Weldon became the owner.  The hotel was acquired by Louis Vonhof in the 1860s and renamed The St. James.  In 1890 a fire ripped through the St. James and 90 people narrowly escaped with their lives, including future mayor Huntington Brown.  The hotel was repaired and expanded and renamed to The Vonhof Hotel.

Vonhof1908

The Vonhof, abt. 1908

Louis Vonhof died April 10, 1904 at the age of 88.  The Hotel remained The Vonhof for a number of years, closing in 1928 when the lease expired.  The hotel was razed in 1930 and, in 1932, the Warner Brothers began building a $75,000 building which was to include a 2,500 seat movie theater, one of the largest in the state. The Warner Brothers were buying or building theaters throughout the country at this time to showcase their “talkies.”  Unfortunately, due to the great depression and the building of the Madison at the Memorial Building, the theater was never completed.   The Warner building, minus the theater, was constructed on the site of The Vonhof and held a number of businesses over the years.  In 1984 the Warner Building was razed and a parking lot now sits at the site on the corner of North Main St. and Dickson Ave.

Sources:

The Mansfield News, 06 MAY 1903, p 7.
The Mansfield News, 20 JAN 1932, p 1.
The Mansfield News Journal, 08 DEC 1974, p5E.

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