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Somerset County Then and Now

Then and Now

133 West Main Street


Address: 133 W Main St
Built: 1922
Builder: James Albert Critchfield
Previously: William B. Coffroth house/Central Hotel/J. M. Holderbaum & Sons
Owners: Warren & Clara Grace Ferner
Extant: Yes

The Ferner Hotel story has it’s start in 1906 when Clara Grace Ferner (née Launtz), wife of Warren Galen Ferner, opened a restaurant at 112-114 North Center Ave., now occupied by Beeghly and Keim Jewelers. After a slow start, the restaurant soon became one of Somerset’s most popular, serving upwards of 500 dinners on holidays. In 1919 the Ferners purchased property at 113 West Main St. from Charles Pierce Holderbaum which had previously been the home of William Brazier Coffroth, the Central Hotel and Holderbaum’s store. Construction began in late 1921 by contractor James Albert Critchfield with excavation work by Harry Lincoln Martin using a tractor shovel of his own design. The hotel opened in 1923, advertising itself as "Modern-Fireproof-European". The “European” indicates no meals were included in the room rate. In addition to a large dining room run by Mrs. Ferner, there was a barbershop and Smitty’s Bar and Grille which also functioned as one of Somerset’s “forbidden” pool halls. The proprietor of Smitty’s was Nelson William Smith who was married to Elsie Marie Stoffle Ferner, daughter of Mrs. Ferner and her first husband. The hotel flourished and the restaurant continued to be popular, especially with the after-church crowd. In 1948 Mr. Ferner died and the following year Mrs. Ferner sold the hotel to the Smith’s. The hotel continued to operate until 1971 when it was bought for $40K by Richard Bulow, C. David Lamberson, Robert M Keim and George R Shaffer and became the Law and Finance Building housing primarily professional offices. The furniture and fixtures were sold at auction with buyers coming from a wide area. Some of the bentwood chairs ending up with a New York City dealer. Several of the chandeliers were purchased by Karl Kaiser and can still be seen today in Stahl’s Jewelry. The space occupied by Smitty’s became the YMCA Teen Center the same year and was the location of many teen dances. In 2020 The Next Step Center acquired the building for use as low-income housing.