The Luckiest Hotel on Main Street
In our last post, we examined the mystery of Hotel Lake of the Woods. This week, we are shifting our story to the similarly named Lakewood Hotel, whose history is much better documented.
In 1903, hotels adjacent to the railroad were cropping up along Main Avenue. One of these hotels was erected on the site approximately where the Warroad Public Library and Mackenzie Street now sit. The Lakewood Hotel was originally a three-story dwelling owned by Alfred Soderstrom, a prominent member of the Warroad community. It was finished in the summer with 33 rooms and was described as "the most elegantly furnished hotel in Roseau County," (Warroad Plaindealer, 07/16/1903).
The hotel ran smoothly through its first few years of operation. In 1905, Soderstrom sold the building to Adam Reid & Co. from Winnipeg. The planned remodeling from Reid & Co. expected to transform the hotel into a summer resort to "cater to the best class of patrons," (WP, 05/04/1905). They also planned to add a cafeteria with a "modern buffet" and a bar area. Most exciting of all was the prospect of an electric launch in connection to the hotel. In 1908, it even housed local dentist, Dr. Vandersaal!
The Lakewood Hotel saw many such renovations over the years. In 1909, the interior was entirely re-done and updated, and electric lighting was officially installed. Soderstrom, who at some point between 1905 and 1909 once more became proprietor of the hotel and saw to its reconstruction. He would sell again in 1913 to S. A. Selvog, who also planned to renovate the hotel; he intended to remake the hotel out of brick, rather than the ever-flammable wood prominent on Main Avenue. Around that time, it annexed in the next door restaurant, The Mint Buffet.
Over its many years, the hotel escaped multiple fires that otherwise decimated parts of Warroad's downtown. A disastrous fire on Lake Street in 1905 remained far enough away to spare the hotel. In 1908, another fire destroyed Doc Parker's Arcanum on Main Ave, situated approximately where the alley between the Soulutions/Hobby Plus building and Breakers Bar resides. That fire did not stretch far enough to reach the hotel. In 1913, one of the most devastating fires to hit downtown Warroad took out the entire first block on Main Avenue. Even the Warroad Pioneer (renamed from the Plaindealer) marveled at the security of the hotel. "BIG FIRE: Entire Row of Business Places on Main Street, Except Lakewood Hotel," (WP 10/05/1913). According to the paper, despite some scorching on the southern side of the hotel, it was saved by wind blowing away from the building, keeping the fire in the open lot between the hotel and the rest of Main Street.
Unfortunately, the Lakewood Hotel could not last forever. It had escaped three fires, but a fourth was not in its future. In October 1915, a fire at 4:30 AM began in the kitchen and quickly engulfed the entire structure. While no one died in the fire and no other businesses were affected, the hotel could not be saved. Thankfully, the building and its contents were insured. It was determined that the Lakewood Hotel would not be rebuilt after the devastating fire, as three other hotels already operated in the area of the CN Railroad Depot. And thus, the Lakewood Hotel was no more.
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- Erin Thompson, Museum Manager