Description: Brass skeleton key with attached tag. Tag reads, “Please Return to Bagg’s Hotel, Utica, NY”
Height: (Key) 1″ (tag) 2″
Length: (Key) 2 7/8″ (tag) 3 1/2″
Last November, I wrote my first blogpost about a curious box I found in the collection room with the simple label, “cannonballs.” Similarly, I recently came across a box labeled keys.
I hesitantly opened it, fearing a box full of fascinating but anonymous keys, but I was pleasantly surprised by the labels accompanying the keys and including several noted Utica hostelries: Hotel Utica, the Butterfield House, and Baggs Hotel.
In 1980, the Oneida Chapter, NSDAR donated the Bagg’s Hotel room 59 key (said to be for the bridal suite) to OCHS. According to the accession paperwork, “these keys were in an envelope with the notation on outside, ‘rec’d from UPD/ 6-29-73…’ apparently having been recovered from a burglary and theft of DAR items from Baggs Square Memorial Building.” For more information about Bagg’s Hotel, click here or here.
Whether the trembling hands of nervous newlyweds did or did not use this key to unlock their wedding chamber is unknown, but Bagg’s hotel registers in the OCHS collection do tell us some of the people who stayed in room 59.
March 6th C. H. Whieler, Boston, MA
March 17th Col. L. Smith, Buffalo, NY
April 29th P. J. Kennedy, Bradford, PA
May 16th George N. Crouse, Utica, NY
In 1914 (100 years ago)
September 22nd F. J. Molhem & Wife, Troy, NY
October 8th Mr. & Mrs. H. Barnard, Rochester, NY
October 14th William West & Wife, New York
Better stop here…this key (like all of the other artifacts I have shared with you on this blog) has unlocked many stories about local landmarks and people, some still here, some almost forgotten except for the rediscovery of relics and works of art hidden away on the shelves, behind the cupboards, in the drawers, and around the corner.
Thanks for reading!