The Tilden House, one of the oldest landmarks of Escanaba, was also one of the earliest and most popular dance halls in town. It was located above the Main Livery Stable where the Chamber of Commerce Building now stands. According to “The Century Book – 1863-1963,” the Tilden House was Escanaba’s first social center, a big frame building located in the 300 block of Ogden Ave. It was named for Samuel J. Tilden, New York financier who was among its early guests. The hostelry was opened to the public on Christmas Day, 1864. The Tilden House closed its doors to guests and, from time to time, as the building grew more shabby through the years, families would live in some of its rooms. But it was cold and water had to be carried from an artesian well on the Third Street side. When Fred Leighton was a boy, a Miss Libby Gorbett, who lived in the Tilden House, paid him 25 cents a week to haul water and wood to her room. She eked out her income by making “Racine Feet” – sewing new feet onto old stocking feet.
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