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The Saint Paul Hotel Has Occupied a Top Position
Among Midwest Hotels for a Full 100 Years

Minnesota’s landmark hotel prepares to celebrate 100 years of world-renowned hospitality in downtown St. Paul

Saint Paul, Minn. (January 2010)— Throughout 2010, the historic Saint Paul Hotel on Rice Park in downtown Saint Paul will celebrate the 100th anniversary of its grand opening day, April 18, 1910.  Festivities to celebrate the centennial will dot the 2010 calendar, helping Minnesota’s most established and luxurious hotel share the stories of the movers and shakers who have passed through its doors—and shaped the success of the state and region—in the 100 years since the hotel was founded.

“The Saint Paul Hotel holds a very special place in Minnesota history,” explains David Miller, General Manager of the Saint Paul Hotel since 2007. “Because of our founders’ commitment to making this the finest first-class luxury and business hotel in what they called the ‘Western’ United States, The Saint Paul Hotel has hosted U.S. presidents, international leaders, royalty, gangsters, movie stars, athletes, business leaders, brides and grooms—these walls have seen thousands of memorable moments. We can’t wait to share our celebration of that distinguished past with the community next year.”

The Hotel’s Beginnings

In 1908 Lucius Ordway, an entrepreneur who was one of the early financial backers and presidents of the 3M Company, offered to pledge the site on Rice Park if the Saint Paul Business League would raise $1 million to finance the construction of a first class hotel. The Business League members shared Ordway’s belief that the growing city needed a luxury hotel to support its economic growth, and accepted the challenge. They secured the architecture firm of Reed and Stem, designers of New York’s Grand Central Terminal. The Saint Paul Hotel was later deemed the firm’s finest work, featuring brick and stone in an Italian Renaissance Revival design. 

The new, million dollar hotel featured the best available in technology, décor, furnishings, and services. Due to its spare-no-expense planning and successful implementation, the new Saint Paul Hotel was deemed “Best in the West” by the National Hotelmen’s Association on May 5, 1910, less than a month after its opening. 

History of World-Renowned Luxury and Service

The Saint Paul Hotel has occupied a top position among the region’s luxury hotels for its full 100 years, welcoming presidents, world leaders, movies stars, sports figures, and royalty. The hotel’s commitment to protecting guests’ privacy attracts high-profile guests and forbids revealing names of current or past guests during their lifetimes. (The hotel makes an exception for living former U.S. presidents, whose stays become part of the historic record.) Among the U.S. Presidents who have stayed at the hotel include George W. Bush, William J. Clinton, George H. Bush, John F. Kennedy, Herbert Hoover and Theodore Roosevelt.

Heads of State and Royalty from Norway, Sweden, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Somali and Ethiopia have stayed at the hotel. The hotel has also been a sought-after accommodation for numerous athletes and performers due to its luxurious furnishings and proximity to the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, Xcel Energy Center, and RiverCentre. 

“Lucius Ordway and his peers chose a great location and built a magnificent facility,” notes Miller. “As stewards of this hotel, we know we’ve inherited not only a piece of history to care for, but a commitment to quality and excellence that must be lived up to. Everyone at the hotel is dedicated to maintaining those standards, continuing that legacy of excellence for the next 100 years.”

Notable moments in The Saint Paul’s history

  • In July of 1920, 300 women from 45 states gathered for the National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Club convention. (The still-active organization returned to Saint Paul in 2000.)
  • During Saint Paul’s gangster era in the 1920’s and 30’s, Leon Gleckman, known as ‘the Al Capone of Saint Paul,’ maintained his headquarters for business dealings in a suite at The Saint Paul Hotel. Mike Malone, a US Treasury Department official who infiltrated Al Capone’s syndicate in Chicago, also rented a room at The Saint Paul to observe Gleckman’s activities.
  • During prohibition, deliveries of liquor were made to the hotel and the bellhops were ready with envelopes of cash to accept the merchandise at prices of $25 a gallon.
  • On June 26, 1937, a young band leader named Lawrence Welk began playing at the hotel on Saturday nights.
  • On September 13, 1937, Gene Autry checked into the hotel for eight days—with his horse, Champion. They were in town performing in the World Championship Rodeo at the Saint Paul Auditorium.
  • Shortly after John F. Kennedy’s first televised debate with Richard Nixon in 1960, Kennedy addressed a group of 500 at a reception in The Saint Paul Hotel’s grand ballroom—and was greeted by another 17,000 supporters outside the hotel.
International Reputation
The Saint Paul Hotel is one of the Upper Midwest’s most widely recognized hotels. It has received numerous awards, including: Conde Nast’s Gold List award (2001, 2002, 2004, 2008, 2009 and 2010); AAA’s prestigious Four Diamond rating for 26 consecutive years; countless “best of” honors from Travel & Leisure Magazine, Minnesota Monthly, Mpls./ St. Paul Magazine, Minnesota Bride, Minnesota Meetings and Events, Lodging Hospitality Magazine, and CitySearch; and 18 yearly designations as the only four-star hotel in Minnesota by the renowned Mobil Travel Guide.

Reaching out to the community 
“We are also interested in hearing from the public, sharing stories about the hotel and what it has meant to them,” said Miller.  People who contribute a memory between January and December 2010, will be eligible to win a one night stay at the hotel each month.  People interested in sharing their stories can simply visit the hotel’s submit a memory section.  Or, they can mail it to: Centennial Stories, Saint Paul Hotel, 350 Market Street, St. Paul, MN  55102.  “Along with the stories, we are also very interested in retrieving some historical mementos from hotel,” Miller explains.  “We have some original china and other things, but would love to add to our collection.”  People who may have something from The Saint Paul Hotel, may call 651-228-3838.

Built in 1910, The Saint Paul Hotel, a member of the Historic Hotels of America and the Preferred Hotel Group, is located at 350 Market Street on Rice Park in downtown Saint Paul, Minnesota. For additional information, please call 651-292-9292 or 1-800-292-9292, or visit   The Saint Paul Hotel is managed by Morrissey Hospitality Companies ( 


Peg Roessler

Also See: The 94-year-old Saint Paul Hotel Receiving Multi-million Renovation / February 2004

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