Larry Breidenbach said his newest building was once referred to as the most "respectable, disrespectable place in Tiffin."
Now he is working to highlight a structure he feels is worth preserving.
Breidenbach has begun preservation work at 36 Hudson St. The building, formerly known as the Hotel Berlin, was a sporting house or brothel for those a little less politically correct from around the turn of the century until it was closed in 1921.
PHOTO BY NICK DUTRO
The building at 36 Hudson St., formerly known as the Hotel Berlin, is being restored for business use. The structure was built and run as a sporting house in the early 1900s.
"I've looked at this for 25 years and said, 'One day I'm going to get that and I'm going to restore it, because it's such a beautiful part of this neighborhood, the original Fort Ball neighborhood," Breidenbach said. "I'm just so happy the previous owners gave it the neighborhood, gave it to me, because it's a beautiful structure. Just beautiful."
The Berlin, as he plans to rebrand it, is to be the 12th rehabilitation he has done in the Tiffin area, which provides him a source of income and a pastime. But Breidenbach said he also sees a chance to improve the community, as was the case when he purchased the building in the same week the Rainbow Muffler and Firestone properties were demolished a few blocks away.
"Now look how much more beautiful this neighborhood is because of what happened in one week," he said. "Some buildings should be torn down, and some buildings shouldn't."
According to published reports, the building was constructed in 1892 by Martha "Mattie" Nisonger, a Mansfield woman who moved to Tiffin and ran several businesses, including a few similar hotels in the area. And although her career was not legal, Nisonger was considered the most successful and notorious in the field.
Breidenbach said he has no plans to return the building to its infamous past. He hopes the building could house a new business on the first floor and provide office space for himself or a tenant.
Breidenbach expects work on the building to take about a year. Work includes installing new windows, tuck-pointing the brickwork and bringing back some of the building's original glory.
While most of the work has been put on hiatus for the winter, he has brought electricity back to the building and now has it lit at night. And with the holidays coming around, Breidenbach has put up a Christmas tree in the second floor -complete with red lights.
"It was a sporting house, so why not have a Christmas tree that has red lights?" he said. "That's the part that I get a kick out of-when people stand back and they look at that, and they get what I'm saying about the red lights on the Christmas tree. Hey, a little history is fun, you might as well have fun with it."