The Fred Jones Building
Story and Interview by Teresa Nguyen
The hotel, which also housed a restaurant, was a favorite for the Myers Opera House performers visiting Janesville.
The Hotel London, now the Hilltop, in downtown Janesville, WI
In 1843, a piece of land just up the hill from the heart of downtown was sold by the Village of Janesville and Rock County to a George H. Williston. The land would later become the site of one of Janesville’s most iconic buildings on East Milwaukee Street.
Fred R. Jones was born in London, England in 1854 and came with his parents to Janesville when he was just an infant.
A Building Plan
In late 1892, construction began on the Hotel London, the Fred Jones Building, at 121 - 123 E. Milwaukee Street. Apparently, the Hotel London had exactly the same floorplan as a London pub in England. Fred R. Jones gave the plans to architect, Frank Kemp. The building was built in the Queen Anne architectural style. It was uncommon, at that time, for commercial buildings to be constructed in the Queen Anne style.
It was the perfect location, right on the East Milwaukee Street hill at the corner of Bluff Street, which is now Parker Drive, across from the Myers Opera House. The building of the hotel contributed to the growing development of the area. It was completed and opened its doors in March of 1893, when Janesville’s population was near 11,000 and electric cars began to replace horse-drawn street cars. It was advertised that electric cars ran “from the depot to the hotel”.
The three-story building features a rectangular plan, a brick exterior, detailed exterior ornamentation, stone and metal trim and a flat roof. Beautiful bay windows hang from the upper floors and a very English royal-like turret on the northeast corner makes this one of Janesville's most intriguing and beautiful downtown buildings. A side door allowed boarders to access their rooms without going through the main lobby.