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One of the best known buildings in the business district for 88 years was the Bellwood Hotel. This was located on the west side of the main street one block south of the bank in the northeast corner of block 13.

The hotel was built in 1883 by C.W. Ewbank and was operated for several years under the name of the Bellwood House. The office and registration desk was located in the northeast room on the first floor. West of the office was the dining room which could accommodate about 25 guests The kitchen was a one-story addition on the west of the dining room. On the south side of the kitchen were the cob shed and woodshed to store fuel for the kitchen and heating stoves.

The innkeeper and family lived on the first floor of the south wing of the hotel. All of the guests were housed on the second floor. Six of the guest rooms had double beds and the two larger rooms had two double beds.

In the early decades of the town nearly all the business people, dealers, salesmen and others interested in obtaining good farm land arrived in Bellwood on the two daily passenger trains. If they were complete strangers and had no relatives or friends in the community they stayed at the hotel. The hotel did a thriving business until about the time of the first World War. After that business gradually diminished as automobiles came into more use.

The first operator of the hotel was George Dittenhaver who operated it from 1882 until 1888 when it was sold to Judd Carpenter. His daughter, the late Retha Hall, recalled that all the carpenters building the Bellwood School in 1890 stayed at the hotel. In 1896 Mr. Carpenter leased the hotel to Emma McCulla and Lillie Page. Other operators during the next two decades were Gene Carpenter, Joe McGaffin, Mrs. William (Sally) Barklow, Mrs. William (Nell) Jewell, Hiram Clossom.

In 1925 Judd Carpenter deeded the hotel to his daughter, Mabel Judevine, who ran it until 1927. James Finch was the next operator, followed by Sylvester and Arnola Demuth. In 1929, it was sold to W.T. Randolph, a retired Bellwood Methodist minister. He sold it in 1938 to Mr. and Mrs. Tom Sandusky who operated it until 1949. Josie Steager was the last owner, renting out rooms by the month for several years. Some of the last occupants were Jennie Cooper, Ben Edmunds and Alvin Woods.

The Bellwood Hotel as it appeared in 1890

The building was unoccupied for some time after that and fell into a bad state of repair. On June 10, 1970 a bulldozer attacked it and soon had it leveled to the ground.

It might be noted here that the first hotel in Bellwood was called the Dale Hotel which stood on the site of the present bank building in block 3 That building was moved and remodeled into a home. It now stands on the southeast part of block 17 and is the home of Mr. and Mrs. Louis Oborny.

The 88-year-old Bellwood Hotel on the day the bulldozer leveled it in 1970


This oil painting was done in 1945 by the prominent Nebraska artist, Terence Duren, who aptly titled it, The Old Opera House. It was the main assembly hall in the early years of Bellwood. It was used frequently for meetings and gatherings and a number of fairly prominent entertainers and actors appeared on its stage.

Actually, only the second floor was used for gatherings. All of the first floor was the Bell General Store. J. D. Bell, Sr. had the building constructed. It was completed in September 1881.

It was located at the north end of the east side of the main business street (Esplanade). It was purchased by the Consumers Coop Oil Co. and was razed to make room for the present service station.


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1998, Dawn Carpenter
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