This material is used by permission of Ohio University Press,

  • Architect: Frank L. Packard, Columbus
  • 1917
  • 361 East Broad Street
  • Renovation: WSA Studio, Columbus, 2005

Located east of the heart of downtown, the popular Seneca Hotel was the first high-rise apartment hotel in Columbus and was considered among the city’s best. Its designer, Frank Packard, was one of the premier architects in Columbus in the first quarter of the twentieth century. The hotel restaurant and ballroom were popular gathering places for much of the first half of the century.  The Seneca’s design has the classic three distinct parts. The first three floors, which housed the lobby, dining room, ballroom, function rooms, and other public spaces, are clad in ornate white glazed terra-cotta. The white terra-cotta of the lower floors contrasts sharply with the next seven floors, clad in unusually dark red brick. Of the seven guest room floors, the first five are utterly devoid of ornament. The top two floors are set between projecting terra-cotta cornices and have windows in their pedimented (gabled) terra-cotta panels. This three-part exterior design is typical of early-twentieth-century high-rise buildings. Note how light wells divide the seven-story building shafts, maximizing natural light in interior spaces. The interior wood wall paneling in the lobby, the ballroom space, and the interesting balcony railings are intact.  By the mid-1960s the Seneca had lost its appeal as a hotel, and it became the women’s dormitory for Nationwide Beauty Academy. After that, it served as offices for the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency from 1973 to 1987. It has been vacant for nearly two decades, and plans are now underway to convert it to apartments.