Lebanon, OH

Among The Countless Guests Of Ohio’s Oldest Hotel Founded In 1803 Are 12 Erstwhile U.S. Presidents


Today, the Golden Lamb is Ohio’s longest continually operating hotel and restaurant business. Its legacy runs deep. The rich heritage of the Hotel is displayed throughout the building, especially in the fourth-floor museum rooms. 

Historical structures and places teach us invaluable lessons about history. It reminds us of how far we’ve come and how those before us lived their lives. But unfortunately today, these remarkable sites don’t get the attention and recognition they deserve because most of us care little about history. 

The Golden Lamb restaurant and boutique hotel is the oldest in Ohio and one of the oldest in the U.S. The more than 215 years old hospitality outfit started back in 1803 when a man named Jonas Seaman moved to Lebanon, Ohio, and built a log cabin to serve as an inn and tavern.

The exact time when the Golden Lamb got its name isn’t known to anyone, but it’s believed that Seaman hung out a sign painted with an image of a golden lamb from the beginning because many early travelers could not read. The oldest written record mentioning the Golden Lamb dates back to the 1820s. 

Because of Lebanon's position on the highway between Cincinnati and Columbus, many famous individuals have visited the inn including twelve American Presidents namely William Henry Harrison, Benjamin Harrison, John Quincy Adams, Martin Van Buren, Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, James A. Garfield, William McKinley, Warren G. Harding, William Howard Taft, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush.

The current Golden Lamb building was built by the inn’s second owner, Ichabod Corwin around 1815. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places as the Golden Lamb on  January 12, 1978. The building has four floors housing the restaurant with a tavern, three large public dining rooms, and five private dining rooms, gift shop and seventeen guest rooms. The old stables were removed to make room for the parking lot. 

In 1926, Robert Jones, grandfather of Senator Rob Portman and husband of Virginia Kunkle leased the Golden Lamb. In 1927, he refurbished it and redecorated it with Shaker furniture. In 1969, Mr. and Mrs. Jones leased the Golden Lamb to the Comisar family, who owned and operated the now-defunct five-star Maisonette restaurant in Cincinnati. The Golden Lamb Restaurant & Hotel continues to be owned by the Portman Family of Ohio.

One tragic event happened in the Golden Lamb back in 1871 when Clement Vallandigham infamously shot and killed himself accidentally with a pistol in his hotel room while attempting to prove the victim, Tom Myers had accidentally shot himself while drawing his pistol from a pocket while rising from a kneeling position.

He was representing a defendant, Thomas McGehean, in a murder case for killing a man in a barroom brawl in Hamilton, Ohio. Vallandigham's demonstration proved his point, and the defendant, Thomas McGehean, was acquitted and released from custody only to be shot to death four years later in his saloon. 

Today, the Golden Lamb is Ohio’s longest continually operating hotel and restaurant business infused with a spirit of hospitality and history. The rich heritage is displayed throughout the building, especially in the fourth-floor museum rooms. 

The legacy of Golden Lamb runs deep having offered excellent hospitality service to travelers, locals, travelers, statesmen, presidents, families, and friends since its establishment in 1803. For more than 215 years, the joint has delighted countless guests with excellent service and memorable food and drink in an atmosphere found nowhere else.

Jonas Seaman could never have imagined that the place he founded in 1803 after traveling from New Jersey to Ohio and spending $4 to obtain a license to operate a “house of Public Entertainment" would still be offering food and accommodation to guests today. 

The Golden Lamb hotel located at 27 S. Broadway, Lebanon, Ohio 45036 is the oldest in Ohio. It is one of the historical places to visit if you’re in Lebanon, Ohio. The joint which still retains its colonial-style architecture is open for dining and accommodation. 

Author’s Note: This article is solely for information purposes. The embedded links and information shared in the article are attributed to goldenlamb.com, oldest.org, and en.wikipedia.com.

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