The Hotel Majestic

In September of 1906 W.S. Dwinnel purchased the newly completed Hulett Block building. The lease was made for ninety-nine years. Exact terms were never announced, but the deal was negotiated by the firm Chase & Scanfeld for W. J. Mc Quaid, a St. Paul grocer who erected the building and owned the ground lease. The property had a frontage of 100 feet on Hennepin Avenue, a depth of 150 feet back to the alley and 58 feet of frontage along 7th street. The hotel building was three stories high. The hotel occupied the second and third floors. Much of the ground floor footage was given over to retail. The Majestic Hotel first opened at the end of August, 1906. The earliest weeks of operation were assisted by the general G.A.R. committee convention. The formal grand opening was held on August 27th, 1906. all 110 rooms had hot and cold running water, brass beds, and a telephone. Clark H. Gregg, a former superintendent of the Denver & Rio Grande dining car service, had charge of the hotel under the supervision of the proprietor, Harry Coniff. The plan was European with a cafe. Mr Greg selected Bliss Bell and Charles Gibson as clerks.They could be found behind the front desk daily.

Majestic4In December of 1906, the Minneapolis Journal reported that a traveling salesman by the name of S. Claus checked in. Coniff, who was working the desk at the time, rang up the paper after he asked the man if the S stood for Santa and that he hoped that he would find a fur lined overcoat under the his Christmas tree. Claus cast the proprietor a long suffering look and branched into a dissertation that should prove to every Mr. and Mrs. Claus in the country the fallacy of naming a son for the patron saint of the Yuletide. “Yes, my name is Santa” said the St. Louis man. ” Born on Christmas Day, I was passed off as the original Christmas package and in the enthusiasm that attended my arrival my parents decided to call me Santa.The first twenty years of my life were lovely, but when I began traveling and registering as Santa Claus at hotels in my territory, I had to hire a stenographer to open my mail. Postmasters though the letters were the work of the juvenile element until the papers began to make jokes about my name. Then I began getting mail and the trouble commenced. I received a solid bushel of letters in Waterloo, Iowa, and somebody must have tipped it down the line. Now I get letter, telegrams , special delivery pleas and personal calls from enterprising youngsters. I cant distinguish St. Nicks correspondence from my own and if things don’t get better, I’ll have to hire another secretary. I have registered as Mr. Claus and S. Claus, but it does no good. The respectability of my family prevents me from seeking a solution in the court by change of surname. My firm has an expense bill that would startle the United States Steel Corporation!” And with that parting remark. Mr. Claus retired to his room leaving unopened mail scattered promiscuously on the hotel desk.

majestuc1The first fire in the hotel broke out at 4 in the morning on June 13th, 1907. The wildest excitement prevailed, but no one was hurt. The hotel was crowded with guests. At least thirty of them were delegates and visitors from Indiana attending the National Conference of Charities and Correction. In November of 1927 another fire drove the Majestic Hotel’s guests out into the street. Five guests were rescued by firemen using extension ladders. Holes were burned through the floors of several rooms. Most of the flames were confined to a music store were the fire originated. The fire that burned the building down came on March 17th, 1949. Discovered shortly after midnight in the kitchen of a Bridgeman’s Ice Cream store at 617 Hennepin Avenue, the flames spread quickly through the tree story portion of the hotel and within an hour they shot 100 feet into the air through the roof. 4o guests were safely evacuated, but one fireman was overcome with smoke and taken to General Hospital. On the first floor, The Hanover Shoe Store, Adam Hats and the Vernes Jewelry Company were all burned out. The building was a total loss. Damages were estimated at 750,000