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Arlington House (Hotel), established in 1868.
Location: s.e corner of Linn & John Streets.

1883 history. (Added Aug., 2009)

History of Bay County, Michigan, H.R. Page, 1883.

West Bay City.

The Arlington House is the principal commercial hotel in the city, and was known in early days as the Bunnell House. In the Summer of 1867 Messrs. M. & H. Bunnell erected a frame two story building on the present site of the Arlington, for a hotel, which was burned in the fire of November following. The owners proceeded immediately to rebuild of brick; the substantial three story building still standing. It was formerly opened in June, 1868, and the event was noticed at the time as follows:

“The Bunnell House was formally opened on Thursday evening, June 25th, by a ball and supper which was numerously attended by citizens of that place, this city and various neighboring towns. This house is on the corner of John and Linn Streets, on the same site as the hotel of the same name which was burned down. It is built of brick, three stories high, with a basement in which are the billiard room, bar-room, kitchen, etc. On the second, parlors and a number of sleeping rooms. The third story is divided up into sleeping apartments. The building presents a fine appearance on the outside, and it inside arrangements are very convenient. It is furnished in good style. The total cost of building is $17,000, furniture about $4,000 more. It will be kept by Messrs M. & H. Bunnell

The house was kept by them for several years. Subsequently Mr. A. M. Rouech kept it and changed the name to the “Rouech House.” Still later the name was change to the “Wells House.” In the Summer of 1882 Mr. Louis Potter purchased the property and change the name to the “Arlington.” This property has recently been purchased by Thomas Toohey, present proprietor.

Page 175.

The Year 1867.

March 16. -- M. & H. Bunnell are about to erect a building 85 x 75 feet, and two stories high, to be used as a hotel.

November 23. -- A destructive fire occurred in Wenonah about 2 o'clock on Sunday morning, the 17th inst., by which the Bunnell House, Charles Miller & Bros. meat market, and John Keith's barber shop were totally destroyed.

Messrs. Sage, McGraw & Co. entertained about 125 of their employees at the Bunnell House, on Saturday evening the 16th inst. A very pleasant and social time was had.

Page 176.

Messrs. M. & H. Bunnell are building a brick hotel on the corner of Linn and John Streets. The basement walls and part of those of the first story are put up. Its dimensions are 42x90 feet, three stories high and a basement. The basement is nine feet in the clear, the first story twelve, the second eleven, and the third ten. The front of the hotel will be forty-one and a half feet above sidewalk. The dining room will be 58x25 feet, office 24x24, reading room 18x24, parlor 18x24, reception room 17x20. It is expected to have it completed by May, 1868. The building will cost $16,000 and the furniture about $5,000 more. Campbell & Hennessey have the contract for the brick work and S. Wheeler for the wood work.

Page 177.

Wenona in 1868.

June 20. -- The formal opening of the Bunnell House will take place Thursday evening, June 25th. A supper and ball on the occasion. Tickets $5.

Page. 228.

County Officers:
1870. - Sheriff, Miron Bunnell.
1872. - Sheriff, Miron Bunnell.

Page 199.

Louis Potter, recent proprietor of the “Arlington” hotel, came to Michigan in 1841, from the state of New York, of which he is a native. He has resided in the Saginaw Valley some thirty years, the last ten of which have been passed in West Bay City. He was married in 1855, and is the the father of four children, all of whom are living.

1889 History. (Added Aug. 2009)

The Industries of the Bay Cities, 1889.


The Arlington House, the leading hotel of West Bay City, is the successor of the Bunnell House, which was first erected in 1867. It was burned the same year, but rebuilt immediately, brick being substituted for frame and opened in June 1868. During September, 1882, the name of the house was changed from the “Wells” to that by which it is now known and the year following it, was purchased by Thomas Toohey, who has since managed and directed the conduct, refitting and refurnishing the house throughout, and resolving it into one of the cosiest and most attractive resorts of its kind in the city. The premises occupied consist of a substantial three-story brick edifice, having a frontage of 60 feet on Linn street with a depth of 100 feet on John street, a location of unsurpassed desirability, being contiguous to the banking business and manufacturing centers of West Bay City, and adjacent to the postoffice and lines of transportation. The main floor is occupied with the office, reading, reception and dining rooms, also the bar and billard halls, and the refectory. Broad stairways lead to the second floor, on which handsomely appointed parlors, furnished in the latest modern style, with sample rooms and chambers en suite are located, while the upper story is devoted to sleeping apartments, supplied with luxurious accommodations and equipped with every convenience that will, even remotely, contribute to the comfort of the occupants. The dine room is a most attractive banquet hall, with capacity to comfortably accommodate eighty guests, and the menu is made up of all the substantials and delicacies to be obtained in the market, furnished in abundance, well cooked and artistically served. The house is in all respects adapted to the requirements of the trade and special pains are taken to realize to patrons the fullest fruition of comfort and pleasure during their sojourn. The house can entertain sixty guests and enjoys a large transient custom, in addition to an equally extensive clientele of boarders. Its rates are one dollar and fifty center per diem.

Mr. Toohey as a pioneer of West Bay City, and prior to his purchase of the Arlington, was proprietor of the well known and popular Toohey House. He is accomplished in the art of keeping hotel, and enjoys a well-earned reputation for hospitality, and attention to the comfort of his patrons

1898 Union celebration. (Added Aug., 2009)

Locomotive Firemen's Magazine - 1898.

Page 683.

Reference: Grand Marshall, John J. Hannahan, of the Locomotive Firemen's Brotherhood visit to West Bay City to install its new North Pole Lodge No. 152.

Arrangements were made previous to this for a special train which would convey the members of the local Lodge and their ladies to West Bay City. The special train left here on Sunday morning at 11 o'clock sharp, with about forty-five members of the local Lodge and a few ladies; also numerous members of Division 304, Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers on board , who also held invitations to be present at a public meeting which would be held in West Bay City after the organization of the Lodge, and would be addressed by Mr. Hannahan.

The party was met in Bay City by a delegation of the charter members of the new Lodge and escorted to the Arlington House, the only first-class hotel in town, where the members of the new Lodge served dinner to the invited guests, numbering about one hundred.

After dinner, and until the hour set for the organization of the Lodge , the party took possession of the Arlington House parlors, where some fine singing was indulged in, Mr. Roach and Mr. Butler, young engineers of the M. C. R. R., and charter members of the new Lodge, accompanying the singers on the piano.

Additional Notes:

  • 1867 The Sage & McGraw banquet for employees was to celebrate cutting 22,601,052 feet of lumber that season. [History of Bay Co., MI, Gansser 1905]
  • 1869 - Hiram Bunnel was a member of the new Wenona Lodge, No. 296, F. A. & M. (West Side), the date it was chartered. He was elected Senior warden. [History of Bay Co., MI – Gansser 1905]
  • 1879 Directory - Wenona:
    - Toohey House, Thomas Toohey Propr., n.w. cor. Henry & John, 2d ward.
    - Wells, Allie B., propr. Wells House, s. e. cor. Linn & John, 2d.
    - Wells, Byron M., bds. Wells House.
    - Wells House, A.B. Wells, propr., s.e. Cor. Linn & John, 2d ward.
  • 1880 Census, West Bay City:
    - Potter, Lewis; keeping hotel, b. 1831 NY
    - Adeline; wife, b. 1835 NY
    - Kittie B;
    - Gace; dau., b. 1880
    - William, son, b. 1857
    -Mary, dau., b. 1864
  • 1881 - Joseph Pero started a barber shop in the Arlington House in 1881, which he conducted for three years. [History of Saginaw & Bay Counties, MI - 1892]
  • 1881 – Lewis Potter, propr. Wells House, s.e. cor. Linn & John Sts. [West Bay City Directory]
  • 1882 -- Mary Potter marriage on Feb. 16, to George L. Wilton, in West Bay City. Groom - age 27, b. England. James Davison was witness to wedding. 1900 marriage record show George married Jessie M. Flynn on Mar. 21, and census that year shows them with a son, Roy, born in May 1883, most likely to Mary.
  • 1883 – About this time Lewis Potter was living in Lapeer where he was partner the in the Abram House there. His partner was George L. Wilton, owner of the Wells House in West Bay City, was married to Lewis' daughter, Mary, in 1882. [History of Bay Co., MI – Gannser 1905]
  • 1886 - After the grand dedication ceremony for the new Sage Library in 1884, the reception afterwards was held at the Arlington House. [Michigan Pioneer Society - 1886]
  • 1950s -- The Arlington continued under this name until about this time when it was purchased, and the new owners renamed it "Diamond Jim's." Later during the 1960s, it once again became the Arlington, which still exists at this time. [History of Bay County, Arndt, 1982]

Viewer Comments:

Nov. 7. 2013, from Jim Petremoux:

    Hiram Bunnell was a 1st Lt. in the 29th Michigan Infantry.

    In the 1870 Census it shows him as proprietor of the Bunnell house. Living at the Bunnell house was Andrew Bird a former slave, in his obituary it states he was a valet to Union Officers in the Civil War.

    Previously to coming to Bay City Hiram ran a saloon in Detroit At the same time Andrew Bird was employed as a drayman in Detroit.

Related Notes & Pages

Original Building.

1884 Front Porch

Building 2008

There are only a few business buildings in Bay City that are as old as the Arlington, built in 1868. It is also one of the city's largest taverns which occupies the first floor. A visit there will give you an idea of what it was like at the Arlington when it was the finest accomodations on the west side of the river.
Related Pages:
Bird, Andrew
Rouech, Azell N.
Toohey, Thomas
Wilton, George L.
People Referenced
Bunnell, Hiram
Bunnell, Miron
Butler, MR.
Campbell, Mr.
Davidson, James
Flynn, Jessie M.
Hannahan, John J.
Keith, John
McGraw, John
Miller, Charles
Potter, Adeline Mrs.
Potter, Grace
Potter, Kittie B.
Potter, Lewis
Potter, Mary
Potter, William
Pro, Joseph
Roach, Mr.
Rouech, A.M.
Sage, Henry
Toohey, Thomas
Wells, Abbie B.
  • Wells, Byron M.
    Wheeler, S.
    Wilton, George W.
    Wilton, Roy
  • Subjects Referenced
    Abram House, Lapeer
    Arlington House:
    - aka: Bunnell House
    - aka: Diamond Jim's
    - aka: Rouech House
    - aka: Wells House
    Bay City, MI
    Lapeer, MI
    Locomotive Firemens Union
    Michigan Central RR
    New York
    Sage Library
    Wenona Lodge #296
    Wenona Village, MI
    West Bay City, MI
    Timeline from Records
    1869/06/20: Bunnell House opens, owned by Hiram and Miron Bunnell.
    1879- Bunnell House - some time before this date, Abbie B. Wells purchased the house, renames it Wells House.
    1881: Wells House - purchased by Lewis Potter, renames it Arlington House. The following year his daughter married George L. Wilton
    1883: Arlington House - purchased by Thomas Toohey.
    1950s - Arlington Hotel - purchased, new owners named it Diamond-JIm's
    1960s - Diamond-Jim's - purchased, renamed Arlington Hotel.
    Note: The large gaps between years, reflects the limited number of records found on owners of this hotel building.
    WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.