- Architect: Frank L. Packard, Columbus
- 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.