Once upon a time there stood a grand and glorious house at 414 East Main Street called “The Hosley House.” Fred and Julia Hosley rented rooms to tourists and even longer term residents throughout their ownership of the house.
The Hosleys bought the house from Dr. McDannell, one of Lowell’s heroic doctors who saw the village through the Influenza of 1918. Dr. McDannell literally worked himself to death, not giving up serving the residents of Lowell until he died unexpectedly after feeling poorly but continuing to work.
The Hosleys came to Lowell around 1911 when Fred bought the Waverly Hotel with his business partner and friend, James DaVarn. The Waverly stood on the corner of South Broadway and West Main Street, which is today a city parking lot. Hosley and DaVarn ran the Waverly along with the Tavern and their own mail order department, both located within the hotel. Their time at the Waverly was eventful, as they battled two different lawsuits between 1913 and 1916 from families of men who chose intoxication over family responsibilities. Both lawsuits were dismissed in time, but they took their toll. James DaVarn sold his interests in 1915 and Fred Hosley sold in 1918.
Next for the Hosley family was a shoe and boot shop. After opening the shop they moved in 1919 to the Lee block. (The shop was on the property recently vacated by Springrove Variety, but in the two-story building that preceded it) They not only sold shoes and boots, they repaired them. Ads encouraged people to bring their worn out or broken shoes to “Hosley’s Shoe Hospital.”
Throughout this time and even when they were away from Lowell for a while, they rented out rooms at the Hosley House. The Hosley House was also used as a venue for speaking events, meetings, and even bridge tournaments. The 1936 Showboat Program includes an advertisement for “Hosley House Tourist Rooms,” overnight lodging was needed during showboat season. The Hosley’s were part of the Democratic Party, and hosted party functions at Hosley House. Julia hosted ladies events that were advertised in Grand Rapids newspapers, drawing ladies to Lowell. In 1936, Franklin Roosevelt appointed Fred Hosley as Postmaster. Fred served until resigning in 1945. During his time as Postmaster the new Post Office on North Broadway was built.
Fred Hosley died in 1951. Now widowed, Julia overcame many difficulties. She lost her sister to suicide in 1953. In 1954 she accidentally hit her grandson with her car in her driveway, causing non-lethal injuries. Through it all she persevered. She was a favorite in the neighborhood for the Hershey bars she always had on hand for the children. She even made the Grand Rapids newspaper for her independence and skills. In 1956, when she was seventy one years old, Julia used a 40 foot ladder to paint the exterior of her three-story home. The newspaper even had a picture of her, showing her at the top of the house!
In 1959 the time had come, even with renting out rooms, the house was too big and too much work for even Julia. The State Savings Bank of Lowell was interested in the property for their new bank building and a sale was negotiated. The Hosley House was taken down and today Huntington Bank occupies this space at 414 East Main Street.