A Century of Service
In 1856, John Summers invited travelers from all over the world into his home, which eventually became the Greenman House, a 60-room hotel erected in 1871 and destroyed by fire in 1878. By 1878, Mr. Summers and John Baugh, an Eastern hotelier, constructed a much larger and more modern hotel named The Windsor, known at the time to be one of the finest hotels in Saint Paul. The Windsor Hotel was operated successfully until 1880 when Baugh withdrew and sold his interest to Charles J. Monfort. Summers resigned in 1891 and Monfort acted as President and Manager until his death in 1904.
For the next two years the hotel was utilized as an arcade and theater. As the city of Saint Paul continued to grow, the need for a new hotel became increasingly important. In 1908 Lucius P. Ordway, a prime mover in the new hotel project, secured ownership of the property with the intentions of constructing a new luxury hotel.
“St. Paul’s Million-Dollar Hotel” opens with much enthusiasm and ceremony on April 18, 1910, with guests such as James J. Hill, the builder of the Great Northern Railway, Lucius P. Ordway, businessman and early 3M investor, and John Ireland, archbishop of St. Paul.
State Legislature ratifies the 19th amendment and the women of the equal franchise celebrate with a jubilee banquet in the hotel.
In July, 300 women from 45 states gather for the National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Club Convention.
Charles Lindberg returns to St. Paul from his trans Atlantic flight and a dinner is given for him at the hotel.
KSTP Radio broadcasts live from the Casino Ballroom in The Saint Paul Hotel (broadcasting ran into the 1950s).
During St. Paul’s gangster era, Leon Gleckman, known as the “Al Capone of St. Paul,” maintains his headquarters for business dealings in a suite at The Saint Paul Hotel. Mike Malone, a U.S. Treasury Department official who infiltrated Al Capone’s syndicate in Chicago, also rents a room at the hotel to observe Gleckman’s activities.
A young band leader named Lawrence Welk begins playing in the hotel on Saturday nights.
In September, Gene Autry checks into the hotel for eight days with his horse, Champion. They are in town performing in the World Championship Rodeo at the St. Paul Auditorium.
The Dixieland music of Harry Blons is featured in the Gopher Grill.
The hotel and the city begin to suffer as highways start to push people and businesses to the suburbs. The hotel is in need of maintenance and repair, and its appeal begins to diminish.
John F. Kennedy visits the hotel prior to elections.
"Bits of history go up for sale,” when the owners decide to give the hotel a facelift and sell off everything, from tables, chairs, televisions, mirrors, china, silverware and carpet.
The Saint Paul business community realizes the importance of the hotel once again. Piece by piece, the 254 room hotel is redesigned, restored and completed.