Restaurant and Inn is Ohio’s Oldest Business
24, 2006 - The Golden Lamb, Ohio’s oldest inn, host of 12 U.S. presidents
and a long list of celebrities in its 200+ year history, has announced
a new operator of its restaurant and lodging operations. Blue Ash-based
Stevens Hospitality will begin running The Golden Lamb beginning October
23. Restaurant and lodging operations were formerly handled
by the Comisar family, longtime Cincinnati restaurateurs who operated the
Maisonette in downtown Cincinnati for many years.
The building will continue to be owned by the Portman family.
They include Rob Portman (former U.S. Congressman form this area), and
his brother Wym (CEO of the Portman Equipment Company) and their sister
Ginna Portman Amis, who are the grandchildren of Robert H. Jones who purchased
The Golden Lamb back in 1926.
Steven W. Mullinger, Chairman of Stevens Hospitality along with his
son Steven D. Mullinger, the company’s President, are excited to take over
operations at The Golden Lamb, and are more than a little awed by the property’s
“During the past forty-five years we’ve worked with many restaurants
and hotels,” Steven W. Mullinger said, “but The Golden Lamb comes with
a special responsibility. It has retained its prestige for more than two
centuries, so we will be very careful when it comes to refreshing the property
and maintaining its traditions.”
Stevens Hospitality is a company that provides management, development
and consulting services to hotels. The company, which has relationships
with Choice Hotels International, Starwood, Marriott and Hilton, impressed
the Portman Family.
“Stevens Hospitality has extensive experience in lodging operations
and management, and in food and beverage service,” said Wym Portman, speaking
for the Portman family. “We are looking forward to working with them
closely and making the necessary investments to protect the heritage that
separates The Golden Lamb from nearly every other restaurant in the country,
and in enhancing the dining and hospitality experience of our guests.”
The Golden Lamb restaurant and inn anchors downtown Lebanon, Ohio, and
has been a popular destination in the region for business entertaining,
family celebrations, holiday and seasonal outings. The four-story
property has a colonial facade, early American interior, and includes 18
guest rooms, four large public and four private dining rooms. It
also houses the Black Horse Tavern and Shaker Village gift shop.
The property is furnished with a rare collection of Shaker materials including
furniture, documents and literature; an important group of Currier and
Ives prints and an extensive collection of miniature lambs, which have
been sent to The Golden Lamb from all over the world. The inn
became part of the prestigious National Register of Historic Places in
Famous guests during its storied 200-year history include 12 presidents
beginning with the sixth U.S. President John Quincy Adams and most recently
by the 43rd President, George W. Bush in May 2004. Historic literary
figures who have visited The Golden Lamb include American humorist Mark
Twain and English novelist Charles Dickens.
Likely changes in store for The Golden Lamb include updating the menu
to keep the best of the past and the addition of popular new selections
popular with today’s diners, and bringing the rich history of The Golden
Lamb alive for visitors.
“People have many good dining options in the region,” Steven D. Mullinger
added, “but few restaurants can claim to be such a part of the fabric and
history of our nation. The Golden Lamb’s beautiful, historic building,
antique furnishings, and unique traditions give our guests an experience
that goes way beyond a good meal and a good night’s sleep.”
History of the Golden Lamb
the twentieth century the automobile brought good roads, the return of
highway travel and the demand for suitable roadside accommodations and
the slumbering taverns stirred to active life again.
In November of 1926, there came to Lebanon an energetic young man who
had acquired both hotel training and experience in restaurant ownership
during his college days at Antioch. It was Robert H. Jones, who is still
the hotel's owner and host.
In June of 1928 Mr. Jones married Virginia Kunkle, of Springfield, and
the following year their daughter Joan was born.
Mr. and Mrs. Jones launched an extensive remodeling program, providing
maximum comfort with an early American atmosphere, compatible with tradition
throughout the hotel.
The improvements included a picturesque colonial porch with tall graceful
white pillars and second and third floor balconies.
The exterior was sand-blasted to restore the original appearance of
the hand-made bricks, while the interior was completely furnished with
antiques, some of which are original furnishings of the inn.
The building today has four floors, a lobby, four large public and four
private dining rooms, a gift shop and forty guest rooms all with telephone,
television, and air conditioning. The old stables have been removed to
make a modem parking lot.
Mr. Jones has a rare collection of Shaker materials including documents,
literature and furniture; an important group of Currier and Ives prints
and an extensive collection of miniature lambs which have been sent to
him from all over the world. These interesting and varied materials are
integrated with the hotel furnishings to add interest to the interior.
The building and organization has frequently been singled out for distinction.
The Golden Lamb was chosen as one of the buildings worthy of preservation
in the Historic Buildings Survey and complete plans of the building are
filed in the Department of the Interior in Washington.
In 1940 it was marked by the Daughters of the American Revolution as
the oldest hotel in Ohio. This ceremony attracted thousands of guests among
whom were Governor John Bricker, Former Governor Myers Y. Cooper and C.
Bascom Slemp, who served as Secretary to Calvin Coolidge.
In January 1956, the Turtle Creek Chapter Daughters of the American
Revolution made their first presentation of an Award of Merit. This was
given to Mr. Robert H. Jones "for his efforts and splendid achievements
in the preservation and restoration of this historic structure, for his
generosity to patriotic and educational organizations, for his active interest
in Civic Projects, and for his Good Citizenship, essential in a Republic
such as ours, all of which has been directed toward the preservation of
the American way of life."
In 1957 Mr. Jones was selected for an honor bestowed by his fellow citizens.
The Lebanon Chamber of Commerce presented their annual award to Mr. Jones
as "The Outstanding Citizen Over a Period of Years."
The Golden Lamb itself has been the subject of many articles in state
and national publications, including Life, Ford, Gourmet, Duncan Hines
and American Automobile Association recognition.
The Golden Lamb has retained its prestige for more than a century and
a half. The colonial facade, on the busy thoroughfare which was once a
stage route through what Charles Dickens described as a beautiful country,
richly cultivated, presents an hospitable threshold for throngs of wayfarers.
Traditional furnishings, with modern conveniences, the tasty meals for
which The Golden Lamb is known far and wide, combined with the friendliness
of small-town hosts, give maximum comfort to the traveling public today.
The next date to be entered in the Golden Lamb's rather remarkable and
fascinating history is March, 1969, when brothers Lee and Michael Comisar,
proprietors of the renowned Maisonette Restaurant in Cincinnati, decided
to extend their realm of hospitality by acquiring the Golden Lamb from
Mr. and Mrs. Jones.
As Cincinnati and Dayton grow together, Lebanon, the old mid-way coach
stop was the logical choice for the Comisars to serve the growing area.
Mr. and Mrs. Jones could have found no one better to carry on their
dedication, love and concern for their many faithful guests and friends.
The Golden Lamb's heritage of the past, and its hopes for the future most
certainly rest now, in capable hands.
Entrusting the management activities to director and partner, Mr. Rester,
all are determined to see that the landmark remains a charming, hospitable
and gracious structure.
With its legend of drama and romance that are a part of our traditions,
The Golden Lamb is dedicated to the preservation of American Life and holds
fast to a quality of gentle and gracious living.