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Published: Wednesday, 4/13/2005

Wauseon: Old motel with a history to make way for drugstore

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

WAUSEON - A motel that has been part of the Wauseon landscape for more than 50 years will be demolished to make room for a new drugstore.

Chief Wauseon Motel, constructed in 1949 by Nelson Spiess and his partner Harry Zug, originally had 12 rooms, but was later expanded into 20 rooms, including some larger rooms designed for families, said Sandy Matheny, Mr. Spiess' daughter.

Mr. Spiess was a developer who built many homes in Wauseon. He was active in politics and served on City Council for a number of years.

Demolition work on the motel is to start by the end of the month, said Tom Hall, Wauseon's code administrator, and construction is to get under way in mid-May.

Wauseon's planning commission recently approved the plan for a Rite Aid at the site, he said. The commission approved a conditional-use permit for a drive-thru window for the store, and there were no objections to plans for the store during a recent public hearing, Mr. Hall said. Plans call for construction of a store with 14,564 square feet of space. Rite Aid is in leased space along Shoop Avenue now.

Chief Wauseon Motel attracted traveling salesmen as well as tourists through the years, said Mrs. Matheny of Wauseon.

"There were a lot of repeat customers," she said, including one gentleman, a cigar smoker, who always stayed in the same room. The first guest in 1949 was Earle Cooper, a salesman for A&P grocery stores, said Mrs. Matheny, who recalled mowing the motel lawn.

The motel was one of the first such lodging facilities in the area, she said, adding that her father named the hotel in honor of the Indian Chief Wauseon, who lived in the area and for whom the city is named. Ownership of the motel changed hands a few times times through the years.

Another project that has been approved by the planning commission will bring new development to a nearby site across Shoop Avenue. Site work probably will start there in May on a strip mall with eight stores, said Mr. Hall.

According to the plans, a check-cashing store; a hair salon; a women's fashion store; a cellular telephone store, and a video game store will be among the tenants. The size of the shops range from 1,200 square feet to 3,900 square feet.

The developer is the Spectra Group of Memphis, Tenn. Estimated cost for the mall project is between $3 million and $4 million. The mall will face State Rt. 2 with access off of Shoop Avenue and the highway.



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