History of the Wisler House
At 160, 162, 164 S. Washington stands a four-story hotel, commonly known as the “Empire House” and more recently as the Gibson Hotel, but originally opened in the 1870s under the name of the Wisler House.
In 1874, Lewis Wisler announced plans to erect a business block with “open fronts” on the former Jacob Miller property. By July 9, 1874, construction commenced and in August masons began the brickwork, reaching the second story before the end of the month. “L. Wisler’s Block is going to make a good show and will be an ornament to the city,” reported the newspaper. “The front surpasses anything in Tiffin.” The facade of the Wisler House is adorned entirely in galvanized metal details, supplied by Maples and Norton of Toledo.
In April of 1875, Wisler leased the upper stories and the middle first floor room to T.P. Harding, who opened the Wisler House, “one of the finest fitted and best arranged hotels in this section of the state.” Its interior, “furnished in the most modern style”, opened to the public in September 1875 with tours, a supper and music by the Boos Band.
Charles Geyer bought the Wisler House in 1880, renaming it the Empire House. Geyer retired in 1882 and C.E. Pratt took charge. The Pratt’s Hotel would be thoroughly renovated with new beds, furniture and table service for the dining room.
The name Empire House returned in 1888 along with a new landlord, Thomas Jones of Upper Sandusky. It reopened August 13th with public tours to view the many “improvements inaugurated by the new management.” The thoroughly renovated hotel included beautifully decorated walls and ceilings, electric light chandeliers, fine carpets, and furniture provided by Fiege Bros. and Henry Lemp, both of Tiffin. Chief clerk Harry Beck and assistant Frank Geyer managed the office, Ferd Miller and Harman Brown manned the barber shop, and Mrs. Jones supervised the “finely furnished and well lighted” dining room. The kitchen, presided over by Herr Carl Peterson “distinguished cook from Berlin,” was “fitted with every appliance for fine cooking,” including a nickel plated natural gas range, beef steak broiler, steam cookers and a self feeding hot-water tank. On the second floor at the top of the stairs is a richly carpeted reception room, furnished with elegant sofas and upholstered easy chairs.” 48 rooms filled the upper three floors of the hotel and featured the most elegant “parlor bedroom” suites. The entire establishment “is second to none in northern Ohio” making it the “most popular $2.00-a-day house in the State.”
The name Empire continued until January 1930, when the Hertzer Family changed the name to the Gibson Hotel.