Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Hotel Menasha

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. 
The building was to occupy the site of the old National Hotel, measuring 60' x 105', three stories high and built of pressed brick with limestone foundation and trim.  On the first floor there was a kitchen, dining room, parlor, office and a bar room.  Thirty eight sleeping rooms occupied the floors above.  With the turn of the twentieth century architect Waters used more classical elements in his designs.  The hotel sat upon a high limestone foundation and the first floor alternated bands of limestone with brick.  The fenestration was regular with the window on the first and second floors capped with segmented jack arch lintel of limestone with oversize keystones. The front entrance was on Main Street and covered by stone porch and balcony above.  Next to the front door was another entry perhaps to the bar room. On the east side of the building at street level was the Ladies entrance which was covered by a canopy supported by chains anchored to the wall.  Separating the first floor from the others was a band of limestone and quoins extended from that band to cornice near the top of the structure. The hotel was very successful and by the summer of 1911 an addition was erected, doubling the size the hotel.  The building has changed over the years: gone are the porch and front entrance as well as the entry to the bar, gone too is the canopy at the side door.


  1. My parents owned and operated the hotel from 1951-1972. It was the pride of the town and a thriving business. Where might I obtain or purchase a print of the hotel shown in this blog. R. Nebel did a wonderful job providing history of the early years. J Fuller.

  2. Mr. Fuller,I would be happy to share a copy of the drawing.