Archive for Wednesday, January 19, 2000

Almeda’s B&B says goodbye to final guest

January 19, 2000

After serving as a home away from home for more than a century, Almeda's B&B Inn quietly closed its doors last summer.

Today, the future is unclear for the hotel that is said to have inspired the play "Bus Stop."

John Lenahan, local historian and author of two books about Tonganoxie, said the hotel had been a popular stopping place for more than a century.

So popular, in fact, that William Inge was inspired to write a play about it, Lenahan said.

"The play, 'Bus Stop,' was written in honor of that hotel," Lenahan said.

Vicky Henley, manager of the Kansas Film Commission, Topeka, agreed.

"I had always heard it was in Tonganoxie," she said. Henley said she had even visited Tonganoxie to see the location.

John Tibbetts, assistant professor of film at the University of Kansas, said the play, written about bus passengers stranded during a Kansas snow storm, was made into a movie starring Marilyn Monroe and Don Murray in 1956.

"It was in the location of the bus station where Marilyn sang a song that established her as an American icon on the screen," Tibbetts said.

Lenahan said that the original part of the hotel at the corner of Third and Main streets was built as a private residence in 1869, and that the house became a hotel in 1894, when purchased by Mary Jane Mollie Myers.

Business was booming at that time, and Lenahan said Myers Hotel and its restaurant were popular stopping places.

"In those days, people traveled just so far and they had to stop and rest they didn't want to sleep on the ground," Lenahan said.

Further, the dining room, Lenahan said, had a large table that seated 40 to 50 people for a sit-down dinner.

At that time, Tonganoxie boasted six or seven other hotels, most of them in houses, Lenahan said.

When private investors built and opened the Chief Tonganoxie Swimming Pool in 1926, the area where the Myers Hotel was located became even more popular.

Lenahan, 76, recalled the politicians who would park their wagons near the swimming pool. He remembered seeing John Brinkley, the Populist gubernatorial candidate better known for his goat gland medical cures, Kansas Gov. Alf Landon and Sen. Arthur Capper.

"Especially during the summers the activities of the town were all right there," Lenahan said. "People went up on Fourth Street to spend their money, but all the entertainment was down on Main Street."

In 1940, Verne and Edith Barber purchased the hotel and named it after their daughter, Almeda.

Last July, Almeda Tinberg, who had operated the bed and breakfast with her husband, Richard, since their retirement in 1984, closed the business during her husband's illness. He died in November.

She said that she would miss running the bed and breakfast.

"We all worked together to get this place going," Almeda Tinberg said Tuesday. "I enjoyed doing the work and I liked the people it was just something that I couldn't continue doing."

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