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The Maples Motel: Still cozy after all these years

Jason Werling • Feb 2, 2015 at 6:38 PM

I'm reposting this story as I was saddened to read today that Joan Faber, proprietor of the Maples Motel, died yesterday in Michigan. She and her son Steve were nothing but kind to me and my boys when we would visit during our road trips. Joan will be missed by many.

Originally published October 31, 2012

Any time a business can remain open for more than 80 years, it might come down to good business sense, a little luck or just plain good people running the show. The latter, and probably a little of the other two, is the case with the Maples Motel on Cleveland Road. Owner Joan Faber has spent the past three decades welcoming Cedar Pointers to the area and third-generation "Pointers" in some cases.

The Maples Motel property started out as a family farm about 80 years ago for WIlliam and Emma (Hermes) Feidan. William built the house on the property and, following an untimely death, his wife Emma had to find some way to pay for the house and upkeep.  Her solution was to build eight cabins on the 56-acre property and charge a daily rate. To help pay the bills, she also sold bouqets of gladiolas for $.50 each and offered family-style chicken dinners on Sundays.

The Feidans had two children, a son, Leroy, and a daughter, Esther. The children grew up in the house and eventually took over the family business with the addition of Leroy's wife Antoinette and Esther 's husband Alfred Faber. During that time the first 12 rooms of the hotel were built.

The Maples was almost called the Royal, a combination of LeROY Feiden and ALfred Faber 's names. But with all the maple trees on the property, the Maples Motel made a bit more sense. Leroy, who farmed the property, eventually sold his share of the motel to Frank and Vera Zimmerman. An additional 14 rooms and the motel's pool were constructed in the early 1960s, making the grand total of rooms to four cabins, ten single, two family and eight double rooms.

The Fabers had a son, Ken, who spent his summers as his mother and uncle did at the family business, running and playing around the family farm and motel. Following school, Ken made a living as an executive with Ford Motor Company in Detroit and married Joan. The couple had four children, Mary, Steve, David and Liz. Ken eventually asked his wife if she would like to spend her summers in Sandusky as a caretaker for the motel with mother-in-law Esther. Joan and the four children started their annual trek from their home near Detroit to the north coast. Joan said she would drive their packed station wagon to pick up the kids from school and drive straight to Sandusky. "We open and close with Cedar Point," Faber said. This weekend is the last for the season for the park and for the motel.

In 1978 when Ken and Joan became owners of the motel, Ken would drive in each weekend during the season to live with his family and the current weekend 's guests. During that time Joan and Ken went to a Dairy Queen car show in Huron where Joan took a liking to a 1958 Rambler, a car that still runs and looks good with the changing leaves of the maple trees in the motel's parking lot. Ken died in May 2010 and Joan, with the help of son Steve, run the business six months of the year.

Steve, an investment banker, has helped his mother for the past five years and is thankful for that time as he was able to spend more time with his father before he died. He says the way they stay open is the return business year after year. More than 60% of their clientele are former visitors to the motel. Grandmas who stayed at the Maples as children are bringing their children who are bringing their children, Faber said. "They come back because of my mom," he added.

The Fabers are proud of their rating of fourth among 35 Sandusky-area places to stay on Tripadvisor.com. Vacationers rave about the nice owners, the reasonably priced rooms, the coffee and donuts in the morning and the ease of getting to and from Cedar Point. Others complain about the trains at night across Cleveland Road, but mention there are earplugs available in the office. Reviews are both positive and negative for the size and style of the rooms, calling them cozy and nostalgic, but also dated and small.

The motel employs five or six people during the season with housekeepers, handymen and a desk clerk rounding out the duties. A former desk clerk, Ron Parthemore remembers fondly his days of working at the Maples, "The Fabers have always prided themselves in keeping a clean 50's style motel as evidenced by the 'color tv' sign and the '58 Rambler in the parking lot. Joan and all her children are more than friends. They are family." Parthemore 's father Barnie rented a room from Esther in the mid-60s, a room Ron would later rent following college.

This week Joan and Steve were closing up the motel for the winter, a routine Joan has gotten used to over the past 30 years. She says she doesn't look forward to the moves back and forth, but once she is at her Michigan home or Sandusky home, she is happy. Reservations are already being made and the family will be back next season for Cedar Point 's opening weekend. "As long as I'm breathing, we'll be back" Joan said.

Want more information, go to www.maplesmotel.com

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