For over thirty years the finest accommodation to be found in Menasha were those of the National Hotel on the corner of Main and Mill Streets. The National Hotel burned in 1901, leaving the business district with only three hostelries for travelers. By late 1902 the Menasha Hotel Association was formed to insure a new hotel was built. Two of the groups prime movers were brothers, Charles and Henry Smith and they wanted a first class establishment for the city. The association met in February of 1903 and of all the proposals before them, accepted the plans submitted by William Waters. There was a notice the next month for contractors to submit sealed bids and it looked as if things were off to a good start, however in May, Miss Elizabeth Smith the aunt of Charles and Henry, passed away. This seemed to bring progress to a halt as no action was taken until 1905 when a long last the bids were to be opened. The headline in the paper spoke of merchants and mill men pushing for the projects completion. The city council even promised five years of tax relief. The bids were opened by Chris Walter the brewer and William Waters the architect. Mr. Walter was the largest investor in the enterprise and would own the land and the building, leasing the hotel to a suitable operator.
Sunday, November 3, 2013
The cities around Lake Winnebago emerged as centers of commerce and population because of good water transportation, add to that the introduction of the railroads and the area flourished. By the late 1800's the communities near the lake began to exploit the lake as an attraction for summer tourists. Fishing and sailing lured many to the lake. In May of 1877 John Roberts was about to open his new resort hotel on Neenahs' Doty Island, so stated a feature in the Oshkosh Daily Northwestern of the 21st of that month. The reporter paid a visit to the hotel and gave it a glowing review "The hotel is a building of the latest architectural design, and does great credit to the architect, Wm. Waters of Oshkosh." The resort occupied the former farm of Governor Doty, on the island near the mouth of the Fox River; and commanded a view of the lake, Riverside Park and Neenah harbor. The hotel was a two story wooden structure, 43' x 68' of 35 rooms, with a veranda across the front and one side and a balcony above the front entry. On the first floor was an office, parlor, dinning room and several bedrooms. Upstairs were suites and bedrooms with hot and cold baths and modern sanitary arrangements. The interior was said to be well finished and elegantly furnished. The hotel was erected adjacent to Governor Doty's log cabin which was to be used as servants quarters or a rainy day place, billiard hall and gentleman's smoking room.