In 1925 Arthur (Otto) and Josephine (stage name Ethye) Miller, from the “Marvelous Miller” ballroom dancing team who had danced around the world, retired and purchased a lodge on what is now the Sunrise Highway in Bay Shore and named it “Marvelous Miller’s Lodge”. At that time, the lodge was used as a summer resort and consisted of twelve bedrooms, two with private baths and two others with full baths. Otto and Josephine ran the lodge.
The attic was converted into sleeping quarters set up as a dormitory accommodating twelve beds which were rented to construction men who were working on the Pilgrim State Hospital project being built then.
Josephine and daughter Ruth prepared brown bag lunches of sandwiches, fruit, cake or cookies and coffee to be taken out by the workers. The men were served meals for breakfast and supper. Weekends they went home to their families. This routine lasted about two years.
In 1938 Harry and Elsie Seifert leased the lodge building for a year, changed the name to “Old Heidelberg” and with permission converted the sun porch into a Bavarian bar. The Seiferts eventually bought it and ran it for several years.
Ruth Miller, daughter of the original owners, held her wedding reception at the “Old Heidelberg” with Dorothy (DeMaria) Miller as maid of honor. Her wedding pictures were taken by the local photographer, James Johnathan, Sr.
Mr. and Mrs. Fred Ooms bought the “Old Heidelberg” from the Seiferts in May 1952. They leased it at one time to Mr. Gerisi for twelve years. It was sold again in 1977 to John Hickey and Thomas Lally and they renamed it “The Jon Thomas Inne”. John and Tom owned and operated The J.T.I. successfully for 38 years.
In August 2013 John and Thomas retired and sold The J.T.I. to the current owners. Publicly celebrated early in November 2013 the new owners embraced family and friends with anticipation of continuing the tradition of The J.T.I. serving the community for many years to come. “Locals”raised in Bay Shore and surrounding towns, the new owners were no strangers to The Jon Thomas Inne. Brothers and friends became associates and “family”.
Dreams were temporarily shattered. No one could anticipate the December 5, 2013 kitchen fire. The disappointment and despair were extinguished by the overwhelming amount of support and encouragement of family, friends and the community. The ashes ignited a new determination and commitment of the owners to rebuild The J.T.I.
Family, friends and the community rallied and the new owners were more determined to reopen, bigger and better than ever. After a few bumps in the road, including, incredibly enough, another fire, The Jon Thomas Inne is now, once again, a focal point in the community and promises to be around for another 90 years, at least.