Located at the corner King and Mary Streets in downtown Oshawa, the Genosha Hotel has been a part of Oshawa’s history for almost 100 years. Its name is a portmanteau of General Motors (GEN) and Oshawa (OSHA).
Plans for the Genosha Hotel first surfaced in 1925. Excavation for the new hotel began in the spring of 1928, with the grand opening in the fall of 1929. The six storey, 105 room hotel, costing the J.W.B. Butler Company Limited from Toronto $500,000, boasted walnut paneling, twin beds, radios, telephones, tiled baths and showers, valet and laundry service, a 24-hour coffee shop, and a roof garden. Records of the building construction supplies indicate 85,000 bricks and seven carloads of tiling were needed to complete the building. The hotel attracted families to its many restaurants, including Harry’s Hideaway, named for owner Harry Finer, and the Rib Room, popular for its prime rib buffet. The hotel also offered dynamic nightlife at their Starlight Lounge. The largest banquet room, the Piccadilly Room, held 450 guests for gala dinners and grand wedding receptions, while more intimate gatherings were accommodated in the smaller Corvair Room, suitable for parties of up to 40 guests. The Genosha Hotel was also the terminal for Gray Coach Lines and the home of the Oshawa Rotary Club and Kiwanis Club.
Hotels were a big business in the early days of Oshawa. When General Motors began holding its dealer conventions, it was essential for an appropriate local venue to be established. Oshawa’s prime location on Highway 2 also increased the need for adequate facilities for travellers.
Over the years the Genosha Hotel has been owned and managed by a variety of different people and groups. In 1933 a group of Oshawa businessmen, spearheaded by G.W. McLaughlin, Gordon Conant, and George Hart, bought the hotel after the original group floundered. In the 1950s, the hotel was purchased by Mr. Finer who owned it until 1977 when Stan Edwards purchased it. Mr. Edwards sold the hotel in 1981. The hotel went into receivership in 1983, with Mr. Edwards coming back to run it. He bought again in 1984 then sold it shortly after.
The 1990s brought considerable change to the Genosha Hotel. No longer was it considered a luxurious, high-end establishment, but was now home to a strip club, the Million Dollar Saloon, and sports bar, Main Street. The area became known as unsavoury, characterized by drunkenness, brawls, and violence. The upper floors were closed off and only 87 rooms were rented for $20 per day or $300 per month. In addition to changes in clientele, the building was deteriorating. Broken windows, pigeon droppings indoors, holes in the walls and ceilings, loose and missing bricks, missing handrails, and exposed electrical wires were only some of the 90 infractions against the Genosha Hotel. The building was in such disrepair, the owners of the hotel were ordered by the city to clean up the location to bring it up to minimum standards or it would be destroyed.
The new millennium appeared to breathed life once again into the Genosha Hotel. In 2003, due to city rezoning, the Million Dollar Saloon was required to close its doors. In June 2005, the Genosha’s architectural significance as an excellent example Chicago style design influence by Art Deco led to its heritage designation by Heritage Oshawa.
Since the late 2000s, there have been several attempts to remediate the building and see new tenants moving in, and after a few false starts, by the late 2010s, this has become a reality with luxury apartments available to rent. It has been rebranded as 70 King, and in late 2020 it saw a pop up art exhibit by the well-known Indigenous artist Mishibinijima and featured Christmas lights, drawing shoppers to the downtown core.
I worked for a time at Harry’s Hideaway. At that time it was the most “happening” venue in Oshawa.. Many young bands of the area got their start at Harry’s. As well as many bands that came across from the USA. or Toronto. The place was usually packed. Nights went on by so fast because it was so busy. Working there was a good time as well as tireing but we all managed . At the end of shift all of us crowding into the tiny room behind the bar to count out our money. We did of course make more money in tips then we did in wages.
Comments are closed.