Lost Columbus: Remembering the Mighty Deshler Hotel, Downtown’s Lodging Landmark

The massive 12-story hotel stood for a half-century at Broad and High streets in the heart of Columbus. It closed in 1968 and was demolished the following year.

Jeff Darbee
The Deshler Hotel in Downtown Columbus, in a photo believed to be from the 1940s. The hotel, which sat at the corner of Broad and High streets, closed in 1968 and was demolished in 1969. The LeVeque Tower can be seen in the background, farther west on Broad Street.

The “100 percent corner” is where a community’s two main streets cross, and land is most valuable. William G. Deshler, who lived at the northwest corner of Broad and Third streets, knew this and bought what became the “Deshler Block” at Broad and High, which included his bank and other businesses.

Dramatic change came when Deshler’s son John G. Deshler built the 12-story Deshler Hotel on this land at the intersection’s northwest corner. Boasting 400 rooms, the hotel opened on Aug. 23, 1916, but was briefly eclipsed by the 635-room Neil House, which opened in 1925 on the site occupied today by the Huntington Center. The Deshler promptly regained the room-count crown when the AIU Citadel (the LeVeque Tower today) opened in 1927 with 600 hotel rooms in its Broad Street wing, connected to the Deshler by a bridge over Wall Alley, giving the Deshler an unmatched 1,000 rooms.

By the mid-1960s, the Columbus hotel picture was on the cusp of change. Twenty-two were listed in the 1964 edition of the “Hotel & Motel Red Book,” but 11 were suburban. Of those Downtown, the Deshler and the Neil House were by far the largest. (Neil House boasted that 400 of its 635 rooms were air-conditioned; all 1,000 of the Deshler’s were.) The others ranged between 60 and 400 rooms.

Today, three remain as hotels: the Clarmont (now a Holiday Inn), 650 S. High; the Columbus Plaza (now the Renaissance), 50 N. Third; and the Great Southern, 310 S. High. Two have new uses: the Norwich, 172 E. State (offices) and the Seneca, 361 E. Broad (apartments). Gone are the Christopher Inn, 300 E. Broad; the Neil House, 41 S. High; the Jefferson, 17 E. Spring; the Normandie, 259 E. Long; the Pick-Fort Hayes, 33 W. Spring; and the Deshler, which in 1964 had four restaurants, including the Top of the Isle, where patrons could enjoy “Hawaiian music and dancing in the clouds.”

On July 31, 1968, the Deshler closed and was demolished the next year. Today the One Columbus office building is on its site. But the memory of the Deshler lives on in a scar you can still see on the side of the LeVeque Tower, marking where the bridge once connected the hotel to Columbus’ most iconic skyscraper.

Sources: “Hotel & Motel Red Book,” 1964; Baist, Sanborn and Franklin Survey; city atlases at Columbus Metropolitan Library;; “Historic Photos of Columbus,” 2007

This story is from the January 2023 issue of Columbus Monthly.