A University Inn

By Brian Brennan

The Wick-Pollock Inn served both Youngstown College and the local community. It was a fashionable venue for business meetings and lunches, wedding receptions and business conferences. It also provided on-campus accommodations for visitors to the university.

Built in 1890 for his children by Paul Wick, the house was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Porter Pollock in 1900. It was acquired by YoCo in 1950 and named Pollock House. It would be home for a time to Army ROTC, the Youngstown Education Foundation and the YSU Credit Union. The parlor and other rooms on the main floor were utilized for social events and meetings.

YSU considered demolishing Pollock House in 1976. Instead, the university allocated $8,000 for renovations. In 1985, the Board of Trustees voted to permit an outside contractor to convert Pollock House into a university inn, stipulating that the original architectural integrity of the building was to be preserved. With great fanfare, ground was broken in 1986 for the $4.4 million Wick-Pollock Inn.

The original house was reconfigured to contain 15 guest rooms, two dining rooms and a bar/lounge. An additional wing included 16 suites, 49 rooms, a ballroom, five meeting rooms, a kitchen and administrative offices. Operated by a consortium of entrepreneurs under a 40-year lease, the inn was staffed by about 100 persons.

Opening in 1987, the Wick-Pollock proved popular. Its sudden closure in 1999 was unexpected, with employees given only minutes to clear out soon after reporting to work. The building would remain vacant for over a decade.

In 2008, an Archives survey team visited the inn and found evidence of the staff’s hasty departure. The guest register remained on the registration desk. Office items were left undisturbed. In one former staff member’s desk drawer, divorce papers were found. Newspapers

in the vending machines announced President Bill Clinton’s alleged affair with Monica Lewinsky.

In the guest rooms, sheets and blankets covered the beds. It was an eerie experience as the team discussed the possibility of “archiving” the Wick-Pollock espresso machine, one member — a student assistant — disappeared and failed to answer when called. He later turned up in a linen closet, alive and well, engrossed in a box of records.

Unfortunately, the team was unable to liberate the espresso machine. Its fate remains unknown. Even so, the survey proved fruitful; the Inn’s files remained intact. While these contain many letters of praise, there were also complaints.

Most involved faulty communications or problems with the staff. Labor issues were common, made worse when the original manager resigned for medical reasons. One serious incident involved an attempted knife attack upon a member of the kitchen staff by another. In 1992, a tainted Thanksgiving dinner led to several guests falling ill with salmonella food poisoning.

YSU’s plans for the building ranged from contracting with a new hotel operator to using the Inn for hospitality management education. For a time, the Inn was even utilized by the Youngstown State University Police Department for domestic disturbance training. In 2012, after being remodeled through private funding, Pollock House became the official home of the YSU president.