On This Date In Twin Cities History - July 2, 1882

On this date in 1882, the Hotel Lafayette built by railroad tycoon James J. Hill opens on Minnetonka Beach. The 700-foot, Queen Anne-style hotel boasted five floors, some 300 rooms and sat on a peninsula, giving every room a view of the lake. The hotel’s amenities included a billiard hall, bowling alley and saloon. The hotel’s 250-foot dock attracted steamboats that regularly crossed the lake. Hill’s railroad also ran its lines straight to the hotel, which claimed the title of the “largest hotel used exclusively for summer business in the world,” according to the St. Paul Daily Globe in 1885. The Hotel Lafayette survived for most of the 1890s, but on Oct. 4, 1897 it suddenly caught fire and burned to the ground.