How did one of the oldest buildings in Rochelle become two of the oldest buildings in Rochelle? The Hotel Delos has existed in one form or another for over 168 years.
If you live in Rochelle you know the Delos, or at least believe you do. Buried in the history of the Delos are many interesting facts that have long been forgotten.
When word was received in 1853 that the railroad was going to pass through Rochelle, Horace Coon saw an opportunity. He hired “Abe” Adams to build a hotel at Main Street and 2nd Avenue only one block south of the Airline Railroad (Chicago North Western).
The Lane House Hotel was one of the first frame buildings constructed in Lane (Rochelle). It quickly became a favorite with visitors and businessmen. By 1865, the hotel was sold to Alexander Simpson and re-named The Simpson House.
In 1872, a second rail line came to Rochelle, the Chicago and Iowa Line (Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy). This placed the Simpson House between two rail lines. The addition of a second rail line provided a large increase in the number of travelers.
More travelers required more rooms. The Simpson House grew to meet the demand. Mr. Simpson removed a portion of the 1853 building and added an eastern and a southern addition. The original eastern portion of the hotel was moved to the west and transformed into a residence. The residence still stands today just west of the hotel. The western section of the original 1853 Lane House was raised to the level of the new construction.
Later, J.H. Brackett bought the hotel and named it The Brackett House. The most obvious change made by Mr. Brackett was the porch. The Simpson House had two separate porches, one on the east side and one on the north. Mr. Brackett removed the two porches in 1907 and replaced them with the single wrap around porch we see today.
Mr. Brackett, in 1893, sold the hotel to Delos Baxter. Delos was a lawyer, financier and at one time even a state senator. Delos removed the last of the 1853 hotel, the western section, and replaced it with a three-story structure.
The 1853 section was moved to the corner of Washington and 2nd Avenue to become a residence. The oldest hotel (1853 Lane House) is now two of the oldest residences in Rochelle. Both houses remain on 2nd Avenue and both still provide shelter one hundred and sixty-eight years later.
Mr. Baxter added steam heat and removed the coal burning stoves. The boiler for the heating made it possible to have hot and cold running water. He installed electricity, eliminating the oil lamps.
The Delos was without a doubt a top-shelf hotel. The Delos Hotel thrived for many years. With the Bain Opera House drawing attendees from a wide area and grain and livestock buyers heading to western markets, there was a need for quality accommodations. Business was good.
Two large stables were erected at the corner of Cherry Avenue and Main Street. Hotel guests had access to rental horse or teams and carriages. The Delos offered quality accommodations with vehicle rental.
Time moves on and change is unavoidable. The opera house closed, train traffic no longer stops in Rochelle, the stables are gone as are the horses and carriages. The Delos is not what it once was.
Fires in 1921, 1959, 2004, 2006 and 2020 have taken their toll on the aging building. Through it all, the Delos still stands, one of the oldest buildings in Rochelle which gave birth to two of the oldest buildings in Rochelle.
Tom McDermott is a Flagg Township Museum historian and Rochelle city councilman.