A near life-size, pristine portrait of Jim Thorpe encased in an ornate wooden frame now overlooks a bar in the former Hotel Onesto.
CANTON A football legend in his prime has found a new home in one of the city's most historic landmarks.
A near life-size, pristine portrait of Jim Thorpe encased in an ornate wooden frame now overlooks in a bar located in the former Hotel Onesto, which has been restored to its original splendor by developer Steve Coon.
The acquisition was found in an antique store in Louisville, Ky., said Brett Haverlick, project manager for Coon Caulking Restoration and Sealants.
"Someone who stayed here called us," Haverlick said. "Later, the store's owner called and told us, 'You guys better get down here if you want it. It's not going to last.'"
Haverlick said that as the restoration project winds down, he's trying to find photographs and other artifacts that will help tell the story of Frank Onesto's hotel, which has been converted into apartments.
Earlier this week, 90-year-old Bill Raymont passed through the doors of the Onesto for the first time since January 1951 when he was assigned to shoot photos of Jim Thorpe at a banquet held in his honor.
Arguably the greatest athlete of the 20th century, Thorpe coached and played for the Canton Bulldogs between 1915 and 1920, then again in 1926. Thorpe, a 1912 Olympic gold medalist, is recognized as one of the founding fathers of the NFL, an event which took place on Sept. 17, 1920, at Ralph Hay's Hupmobile showroom located just three blocks south of the Onesto. Hay also owned the Bulldogs.
The banquet attended by 700 was a who's who of dignitaries, including Branch Rickey, the Ohioan who signed Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers; Gov. Frank Lausche; Ben Fairless, president of U.S. Steel; and Cleveland Browns star Marion Motley.
Thorpe died on March 28, 1953. He was 64. (Information has been changed to correct an error at 8:45 a.m. 8/14/17. See correction at end of story.)
Raymont, who worked as a photographer for the Timken Co. from 1951 to 1985, recalled being thrilled to get the assignment, even though he wasn't a sports fan. He preferred automobiles and machines.
"It was just such a thrill to be in the room with Jim Thorpe," Raymont recalled.
Thorpe, Raymond said with a chuckle, spoke for less than 30 seconds.
Copies of Raymont's photographs from the dinner will adorn the walls of the Onesto's second-floor lobby.
"It was the best job in the world," he said.
Raymont also recalled attending his Tiimken High School prom in the Onesto in 1945.
"I can't believe it. To think someone had real guts to tackle this," he said of the renovation.
Haverlick, who made a video of Raymont, said he also was able to secure some photos of Onesto employees from Frank Onesto's niece, and a collection of photos from the Wm. McKinley Presidential Library & Museum, showing the downtown neighborhood before, during, and after the Onesto and the Bliss Tower were built.
They're on display in the lobby of the Bliss Tower next door, which also is being converted into apartments.
"We're fortunate to have that kind of data available," Haverlick said.
Haverlick may be reached by email at: email@example.com
Reach Charita at 330-580-8313 or firstname.lastname@example.orgOn Twitter: @cgoshayREP Correction: Jim Thorpe died in 1953. The wrong date was cited when this article was first published online 8/11/17.