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The Island House Hotel
102 Madison St., Port Clinton, Ohio 43452
  History of the Island House    

Making people feel comfortable since 1886

Come visit us and learn why staying at the Island House is a tradition.

Call 419-734-0100 to make your reservation.


The Island House Hotel was originally built a short 58 years after the war of 1812 where Commodore Perry had a decisive victory over the Royal British Naval fleet securing the passage of Lake Erie. From our doorstep you can clearly see the chain of Lake Erie islands where the battle took place.

Originally built in 1870, The Island House succumbed to a devastating fire that consumed the all wood structure in 1882. The current structure was commissioned by Conrad Gernhard, Sheriff of Ottawa County, to replace the Old Island House Hotel in 1886. The Sheriff funded the construction of the gorgeous hotel utilizing moneys collected by the interest and penalties on delinquent taxes. The original cost of construction was $25,000 which by 2010 standards is the equivalent of $600,000.

At the grand opening when the thick wooden doors swung open, The Island House featured 50 lavish rooms and only one bathroom. It was the talk of the town. As one local paper wrote "the House was equipped with every modern convenience pertaining to the traveling public."

As part of his construction plan, Gernhard ensured that the Island House would boast the area's finest restaurant and drinking saloon. As the story goes the good Sheriff left his mark permanently on the Island House when after a night of drinking and cavorting, he fired his pistol in the air leaving a bullet hole in the ceiling which remains to this day. As the premiere hotel and restaurant in the area, The Island House became a popular hunting and fishing lodge for local and travelers alike. In fact The Island House was a common stopping point for professional sports teams traveling to and from games.

Notable guest of The Island House Hotel through the years include:

  • Presidents Hayes & President Garfield both avid sportsmen stayed with us
  • Humphrey Bogart & Lauren Bacall, who stayed in Port Clinton while checking on custom-designed boats at Mathews Boat Lines
  • Babe Ruth
  • Joe DiMaggio
  • Marilyn Monroe

After the death of Sheriff Gernhard, the Island House was purchased by the Stensons as a wedding present for their children.

The Island House Inn was purchased by Walt McKenna and Pam and Dave Waleri in 1997. They remodeled the hotel to create a full service and upscale inn.

Today, the Island House Hotel is a condo-tel, with 38 rooms individually owned, but operated as a hotel.



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