Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Jack Day's Bay View Hotel

Jack Day

Like so many before and after, John “Jack” Day, Jr. came to South Bass Island never intending to stay, but he soon made it his home. His father, John, Sr., was the son of Irish immigrants. He worked as a builder and contractor near Poughkeepsie, New York. Eventually, the Day family settled in Detroit, where Jack learned to build organs. But in 1887, at the age of 20, Jack came with his father to South Bass Island to work on the new town hall. When the hall was finished, Jack stayed on to manage a restaurant and later the Oak Point House. He helped with the construction of the Victory Hotel and leased the Gibbons property before moving to Ballast Island. There, for seven years, Day managed a club.

Jack Day's Bay View Hotel

Jack was persuaded to return to South Bass Island and purchase the Gibbons property that he had leased earlier. There were 5 acres of fruit trees and a 15-room house on the property. Day soon moved the structure forward on the lot and added a third floor, verandahs, and an “outside dining room.” Jack Day’s Bay View Hotel grew to 50 rooms. Like other South Bass Island hotels, it became a respite for city dwellers hoping to escape the summer heat and ever-present smoke and dirt.

Jack Day's Barns

Day’s careful management brought hundreds of vacationers back to Bay View year after year. It became a focal point for many Lake Erie yacht gatherings. According to the “History of Northwest Ohio,” Day credited much of his success to his wife, May Belle Millen of Norwalk. In addition to their hotel business, the Days raised Mildred Welch, who later married Bernard McCann.

Jack took part in Put-in-Bay’s civic life. He served as chairman of the park board and street commission, on the town council and school board, and as mayor for several terms. After his wife’s death, he continued to manage the Bay View with the help of a cook, and in his later years, the Jack Day Tourist Home. In the spring of 1958, Jack fell ill shortly after returning from Florida. He was flown to the mainland, where he passed away a short time later at Magruder Hospital. Jack Day, 91 years old, was buried at Maple Leaf Cemetery on the island he had loved for a lifetime.

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