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A History of The Radisson Hotel
Downtown Minneapolis
by: Carlson Companies' Public Relations Department, 1998

The year was 1909. William Howard Taft was President of the United States, Adolph 0. Eberhart was Governor of Minnesota, and James Clark Haynes was Mayor of Minneapolis. Robert F. Peary had reached the North Pole, and the Pittsburgh Pirates, led by Honus Wagner, would beat Ty Cobb's Detroit Tigers in that year's World Series. The City of Minneapolis had just inched over the 300,000 mark in population. In downtown Minneapolis, business was booming. George Draper Dayton's Six-year old dry-goods store on the corner of Seventh Street and Nicollet Avenue was typical of the up-and-coming commercial establishments growing prosperous in the Loop. His soon-to-be-famous retail store (now a division of the mighty Dayton-Hudson Corporation) was constructed on the site of the Westminster Presbyterian Church, once a Minnesota landmark, which had been destroyed by fire in 1895. 

Daily, it seemed, more businesses and more people looking to do business were moving into the "Mill City," so called because of the large number of lumber and flour mills located on the Mississippi River at the edge of downtown. The Cadwallader Washburn Mill (forerunner of today's General Mills Corporation) had opened in 1866 and was joined by the likes of the Pillsbury Company, which opened the largest flour mill in the world here in 188l. 

In fact, the city's population increased by 100,000 between 1900 and 1910. Seventh Street between Nicollet and Hennepin avenues was bustling. Horse-drawn conveyances vied for predominance with growing numbers of motor cars on the cluttered downtown streets. Two vaudeville palaces - featuring both matinee and evening performances - flourished. They were the Seventh Street Orpheum and the Miles Theatre (later called the Century.) Men's shirts were selling for $1.50 at the time, and coffee went for 25 cents a pound. 

Nineteen-hundred-nine was also the year that one of the nation's most luxurious and talked-about hotels-the Radisson - opened its doors next to Dayton's emporium on Seventh Street. It would be its designers promised, "the finest hotel between Chicago and the West Coast:" The Radisson would replace the renowned West Hotel at Fifth and Hennepin as the hospitality and social center of Minneapolis. 

It happened like this.

Several years earlier, in Chicago, an enterprising woman named Edna Dickerson was running a school for court reporters. One day she learned that a distant relative, Albert Johnson, who owned considerable real estate in downtown Minneapolis, had passed away and left her a large amount of money and property. A short time later, while Ms. Dickerson was in Minneapolis to collect her inheritance, she met George Dayton and other prominent Mill City business people, who were convinced that a first-class hotel would be a boon to all downtown enterprise. They urged her to invest some of her inheritance in the construction of a grand hotel next to Dayton's store. Ms. Dickerson liked the idea, and arrangements were made to develop the new "Minneapolis Hotel Building:' as the facility was called on the initial blueprints. The Chicagoan would contribute $1.5 million to its construction. 

The name "Radisson" was suggested by one N.H. Owen, a member of the Commercial Club, a Minneapolis business group that would eventually occupy two floors of the new hotel. Owen borrowed the name from the great and colorful French explorer, Pierre Esprit Radisson, who had crisscrossed the Great Lakes area in the 17th century. It was believed, at that time, that Radisson had been the first white man to explore Minnesota. His name was not widely known because his travels into the area took place before settlements had been established and much local history had been recorded. Owen believed that "Minnesota's forgotten explorer" deserved some recognition-and how better to provide that recognition than to name the city's newest and grandest hotel after him. 

Plans for the structure incorporated the hotel's next door relationship with George Dayton's dry-goods store, a relationship that would continue for the next seven decades as these two businesses beckoned people from all walks of life and from throughout the world to their adjacent doorsteps. This relationship would eventually bring millions of people to downtown Minneapolis to stay and dine at one of the finest hotels and to shop at one of the best department stores in the nation. 

Dayton's and the Radisson would eventually account for billions of dollars being generated in the downtown Minneapolis economy during the 20th century. In the early days of the 1900s, Dayton's and the Radisson Hotel were largely responsible for moving the center of downtown Minneapolis from near the Mississippi River up to its current location, at the intersection of Seventh Street and Nicollet Avenue (now the Nicollet Mall.) 

Construction of the Radisson Hotel began in mid-1908. Its owners would spare nothing to make it one of the finest establishments in the nation and comparable to any hotel in the world. According to the Minneapolis Journal in 1909, the Radisson would be "the last word in hotel perfection." 

The architects selected for the Radisson project were Long, Lamoreaux, and Long, and the general contractor was C. E Haglin, both firms of Minneapolis. The consulting engineer was Charles L. Pillsbury of the great local milling family. Edna Dickerson and her new husband, a Chicago lawyer named Simon Kruse, reached all the way to New York City and the world-famous Hotel Astor and Hotel Knickerbocker for their first manager. His name was Charles J. Owen, a former assistant manager at both New York hotels. His new title would be managing director, Radisson Hotel, and he would assemble one of the finest hotel staffs in the nation to properly open and manage the Radisson. The new hotel was already being called the "Jewel of Seventh Street" because of the state-of-the-art innovations and conveniences built into it. 

William Frederick Behrens, a famous designer from New York City, was engaged by the Kruses and Owen to develop the hotel's interior. His choice for the decor was French Renaissance, a logical tribute to the hotel's namesake, Pierre Radisson. 

Throughout its design and construction the Minneapolis newspapers of the day - the Journal, the Tribune, and the DailyNews devoted hundreds of columns to the elaborate decorations, amenities, and funds expended to make the Radisson Hotel a "gem of a hotel" with the "last word in appointments." They noted that the Radisson would be the tallest building in America built with reinforced concrete. Construction publications also heralded the first use of steel sheet pilings that gave the hotel extraordinary strength at its foundation. The Radisson was one of the first structures in the United States to use this new type of construction. 

It took slightly more than a year to build the Radisson Hotel, its workmen often laboring round-the-clock to get the job done. The year 1909 was nearly over when the hotel finally opened its doors to the public on December 15th. The Kruses had tried to open the hotel in time for the huge Minnesota State Fair in late August, but they had been foiled by construction delays. 

Earlier in the year, to add even more interest in the new hotel, Owen announced a contest for Minneapolis high school students, with cash prizes for the best essay about Pierre Radisson. A North High School student, Ruth Hanson, was awarded the $12 cash first prize by the sponsoring Commercial Club and saw her essay printed in both the Daily News and Journal in May. The contest was one of many ways Owen generated publicity. Toward that end he was ably assisted by Smith B. Hall, who held the title of superintendent of publicity for the hotel. Hall, incidentally, was the father of Halsey Hall, who became one of Minnesota's best-loved sportscasters and writers. 

Among the returns on their efforts were glowing reports about the hotel's silver service carried in the local papers  all noting the silver was on display at J.B. Hudson and Son, a famous local name in jewelry. The silver service was designed for the Radisson by the Gorham Manufacturing Company. The papers also noted that Boutell Bros., a well-known downtown furniture store, had received the contract for furnishing the hotel. Hotel officials spent weeks visiting furniture factories across the United States to select the finest in furniture as well as all furnishings for the new facility. 

The 16-story hotel was originally scheduled to have 325 rooms. During construction, however, the room count was increased by 100 rooms, for a total of 425. The 100 room addition was begun after the original construction started but before it was finished - an oddity Owen, Hall, and the local papers also made much of. Adding more space to the hotel before it was even finished, everyone agreed, showed confidence in both the facility's immediate success and its future. 

When the Radisson finally opened just before Christmas 1909, only the Minneapolis City Hall extended farther above the growing Mill City skyline. Most of the Radisson Hotel rooms had baths, and all had cold drinking water pumped from an artesian well 975 feet below the ground. The well, drilled under the supervision of expert geologists, penetrated the Hinckley Sandstone ledge that lies beneath downtown and, more than 70 years later, still furnishes pure and delicious drinking water for Radisson guests. 

Room rates at the Radisson in 1909 started at $1.50. The $1.50 rooms did not have baths. For between $2.50 and $5 a guest could enjoy the hotel's finest amenities, which included a bath. Accommodations for two cost an extra dollar. 

The hotel employed 250 people when it opened. Fifty female employees lived in the hotel as did some of the chefs. 

Initially, the hotel boasted two restaurants. The first was the Chateau Room off the main lobby. Seating about 250 guests, this elegant establishment featured decorations and furniture patterned after the dining rooms of the Chateau Blois of the Francois-premiere period. The room was done in Circassion walnut with a gray finish. The facility's other restaurant was the Viking Cafe in the rear of the hotel, which seated 100 diners. This room was finished in dark stained oak and featured a silver scale-model Viking ship created for the hotel by Edward Caldwell. (The ship still hangs in the Radisson Lounge now called the Viking Room.) The Cafe's walls were graced by no fewer than 10 murals painted by renowned Scandinavian artist Arthur Wilberg. The murals depicted scenes from Sweden and Norway. 

A third restaurant, the Teco Inn, opened in the hotel a few years later. The Teco Inn was one of the largest rathskeller-type dining rooms in the nation. It was furnished in richly-colored tiles depicting landscape scenes from around Minnesota and historic events bearing on the position of Minneapolis as the gateway to the great Northwest. 

Besides the restaurants, the new hotel included six private dining rooms and a magnificent banquet hall whose chairs were covered in gold leaf with the Radisson coat of arms imprinted on the backs. 

Entering the hotel, guests were shaded by a canopy 50 feet long, with glass and ornamental iron that extended over three doorways separated by columns of marble and framed in monumental bronze. Once inside, they would find a ladies' sitting room (the Adams Room) located just off the lobby; a billiard parlor and eight-chair barbershop were in the basement. A lobby cigar shop offered the finest cigars, confections, and sodas of the period. Humidors capable of storing a million cigars were installed in the shop. Maurice L. Rothschild operated a clothing store on the premises, and Capper and Capper, Ltd., a worldfamous haberdasher, eventually occupied a prime location off the lobby. (Some 60 years later, the popular Haberdashery peanut bar graced the same spot.) Also off the lobby was the hotel's own library. 

So distinctive and famous was that original Radisson Hotel it had a march named after it! The march was composed by Franz Dicks and published in sheet-music form by Joseph E. Frank. It was called, logically enough, "The Radisson March" and was dedicated to the hotel and its managing director, Charles Owen. It was played for the hotel's thousand guests on opening night by the Radisson Orchestra. There were other tributes, too. The HaysWeaver Milling Company of Brainerd, Minnesota, gave the name Radisson to one of its flour products. Some years later, the McGarvey Coffee Company of Minneapolis named a special brew after the hotel's world-famous Flame Room restaurant. 

Much of the inspiration for all this lay in the elegance of the hotel's furnishings. Its wallpaper had been imported from abroad. Its curtains were hung from solid brass rods. Carpets, a special blend of weaves designed exclusively for Radisson, were made by the Bigelow Carpet Company of Clinton, Massachusetts. The banquet rooms had parquet floors. The lobby floor was of gray and pink marble laid out in a herringbone pattern. Eight paintings by Arthur Thomas depicting the events of Pierre Radisson's life adorned the lobby. 

Still, according to newspaper reports of the time, it was the kitchen that was the "showplace" and the "soul" of the new hotel. The kitchen was initially situated in the basement and measured 6,500 square feet. It had its own bakery and featured a fish chef, soup chef, roast chef, and pastry chef. It also had game - roasting ovens and an automatic dish conveyor "the only one of its kind west of New York City." It was, in sum, "the finest hotel kitchen in America." (Interestingly, when the Radisson opened in 1909, it could not serve alcoholic beverages. The hotel, then on the edge of the downtown area, was outside the city's liquor - patrol limits. The hotel did not receive permission to serve liquor until an ordinance extending the limits was enacted in 1911.) 

Meanwhile, the Northwestern Telephone Exchange (later known as Northwestern Bell and today as US West Communications) boasted in an ad that there was a telephone in every room of the new Radisson, with three operators on duty round the clock. There was even a wireless available to guests who wished to transmit messages round the world. 

An automatic revolving front door was yet another of the hotel's many innovations. The facility also featured seven electric elevators-the latest in passenger lifts offered by the Otis Elevator Company. Three of the elevators carried passengers from the main lobby and the others were used for baggage and freight. The hotel had a glassed-in taxicab stand, copied after several top New York City hotels. 

As for entertainment, the Chateau Room featured, every evening for dinner, a quintet from the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra. And, over the next 50 years, the Radisson would be a stopping-off point for the finest entertainers in the world as well as several U.S. presidents, royalty, and other world-renowned dignitaries. President Taft visited the hotel twice during his administration, on September 18, 1909-before the hotel officially opened and then again for a breakfast in the hotel's magnificent Grand Ballroom on October 25, 1911. 

The Radisson's grand opening on December 15 was highlighted by a gala dinner for a thousand guests. The gentlemen wore tuxedos while the ladies were attired in fashionable long dresses. All the banquet rooms were pressed into service for the elegant dinner, which cost $5 per person. The  Minneapolis Daily News called the opening a "Great Event in the History of Minneapolis." "All other parties have been canceled," said the newspaper, so that "all of society can attend the Radisson opening and first meal served."

The evening's menu was as follows:
Canape Caviar Russe
Celery, Olives, Almande Salees
Consomme Printanier Royal
Homard Farci
Ris de Veau Braise, Sublime
Petits Pois Francaise
Sorbet Radisson
Poussin de Bruyere Roti, sur Canape
Currant Jelly
Salade Moderne
Beignet Singapore
Claces Fantaisin
Petit Fours             Fruits
Fromage                 Biscuits
Demi Tasse


Each guest received a souvenir menu; the ladies were given fine china pin trays and silver hand mirrors with the Radisson crest embossed on the mirror back. 

Not surprisingly, the name and fame of the new Radisson Hotel spread far and wide, as travelers to Minneapolis and St. Paul found hotel accommodations to be the finest anywhere. Advertising for the Radisson in those days made it crystal clear that despite its opulence, the hotel was affordable by nearly everyone and that there was no discrimination against the ladies. 

Charles Owen remained managing director of the hotel until mid-1910, when Simon Kruse took over the duties, a post he would hold until he lost the hotel in 1934. From the moment the hotel opened in 1909, the Kruses lived on the premises. It is traditional in the hotel business that there is never a 13th floor. Accordingly, the Kruses' rooms were located between the 12th and 14th floors. 

Radisson Downtown Hotel Managers
Charles Owen, 1909-1910
Simon Kruse, 1910-1934 (Kruse and his wife Edna Dickerson, built the hotel in 1909 and owned it until 1934)
Rueben Hood, 1934-1936
Dick Kitchen, 1936-1938
Ray Swanson and James Gormley 1938-1941
Joe Binns, 1941(Binns was an out of town manager hired by the Philadelphia Fedelity Trust Company, which took over teh hotel from Simon Kruse in 1934. Binns served as manager for only a feew months during 1941)
Byron Calhoun, 1941-1947
Louis Kozell, 1947-1949
John Daniels, 1949-1950
Harry Calevas, 1950-1951
Don Clayton, 1951-1959
Lou Torok, 1959-1962
Bob Moore, 1962-1968
Stuart Gully, 1968-1973
Carl Schuster, 1973-1981 
Roland Bauman, 1987 
John Kelly, 1987-1994
Paul Poto, 1994-

Radisson Downtown Hotel Owners 
Simon and Edna (Dickerson) Kruse, 1909-1934 
Philadelphia Fidelity Trust Company, 1934-1941
Tom Moore, 1941-1960
Tom Moore - Curt Carlson, 1960-1962
Curt Carlson, 1962-present  ( Purchased 51-percent interest in the hotel in 1960. He bought the remaining interest in 1962.)

Throughout the Roaring '20s, the Kruses kept the hotel a first-class operation as more and more travelers began to discover not only Minneapolis and St. Paul, but also nearby Lake Minnetonka, with its own first-class hotels and resorts. So popular was Lake Minnetonka and the hotels on its shores that Simon Kruse and the Radisson staff began receiving hundreds of requests from guests for recommendations as to where to stay on the lake. Thinking he might be losing some business and to further accommodate Radisson guests, Kruse purchased the Glen Morris Inn on Christmas Lake near Excelsior, Minnesota. The lake was only minutes away from Minnetonka. 

Kruse changed the name to the Radisson Inn and turned over its management to his wife's cousin, Belle Beazell. Open only during the summer, the inn was a popular picnic spot for families and companies. It was not uncommon to see ladies in their long dresses playing croquet on the inn's spacious lawn. The inn also featured an enormous, 240-foot-long front porch; many of its 40 rooms offered sleeping porches. The inn was renowned for its excellent food, particularly its Sunday-afternoon chicken dinners. In addition, the facility offered boating, sailing, tennis, fishing, and horseback riding. But no liquor was served while Radisson owned it. 

The Radisson Inn was comfortably furnished with Navajo rugs on the hardwood floors and rattan furniture. Besides the rooms in the main building, there were a number of cottages on the property, many of which still stand today on the north end of Christmas Lake. The road that runs past the inn and the cottages was christened "Radisson Road," the name it bears to this day. 

The Kruses, meanwhile, poured money into the Radisson Hotel throughout the 1920s. The Radisson remained the place to go and be seen in Minneapolis. The first of its three Flame Room restaurants opened in 1925, originally on the mezzanine level. The Radisson also offered the so-called Radisson Roof for dancing during the summer months. Guests using the Roof could also enjoy the Springtime Room, another one of the hotel's restaurants, on the topmost floor. This enclosed facility resembled a greenhouse and offered limited food and beverage service in pleasant weather. 

One of the Radisson Hotel's earliest commercial tenants was KSTP radio. From 1925 until the early '40s, the Radisson was one of this radio station's two main broadcasting facilities. The Hubbard family, early pioneers of radio in Minneapolis-St. Paul, signed a long-term contract with Simon Kruse to broadcast from atop the hotel. 

In 1944, KSTP's facility was moved to the Radio City Theatre two blocks south of the hotel. Today, KSTP radio has been joined by KSTP-TV and U.S. Satellite Broadcasting to become one of the world's largest broadcasting operations, and is now located at the city limits of Minneapolis and St. Paul on University Avenue West. But it was at the Radisson in downtown Minneapolis that this broadcasting giant had its beginnings. 

During his tenure as Radisson manager, Simon Kruse had a penchant for agriculture, especially for growing fruits and vegetables. Accordingly, he plowed huge sums of the hotel's money and his wife's inheritance into the Radisson Farms located on several hundred acres of not-so-productive farm land in Anoka County, north of the Twin Cities. The farms produced the fresh fruits and vegetables that were served in the Radisson dining rooms and at its many banquets. But the agricultural venture was not a profitable one, judging by the hotel's ledgers of the time. Indeed, the financial drain of the farm, coupled with the cost of running the Radisson Inn at Christmas Lake, had plunged the Radisson Hotel into financial difficulties by the mid-'20s. The Kruses' financial problems were complicated by the stock market crash of 1929. 

Belle Beazell, Edna Kruse's cousin and a stockholder in the Radisson Hotel, provided some insight into the financial problems besetting the hotel and the Kruses during that period. In 1960, at the age of 85, she told a Minneapolis Tribune reporter that her cousin's decision to build the Radisson Hotel "wasn't a mistake for Minneapolis, but it was a mistake for us. We lost the hotel in the Depression," she said. "The mistake was that Simon Kruse's talents lay in being a lawyer, and his wife knew little about operating a hotel." 

Beset by cash-flow problems, the Kruses refinanced the hotel in 1927. But within seven years, the Philadelphia Fidelity Trust Company, which then held the mortgage, decided it had to foreclose on the hotel. The finance company took over the hotel in 1934. 

As the result of a highly unusual trade, the Kruses were given the Windsor apartment building at Franklin and Third Avenue in south Minneapolis in exchange for the Radisson Inn. The Minneapolis Journal reported at the time that the Kruses, in a $500,000 deal, "traded the Radisson Inn at Christmas Lake for the Windsor Apartments". The inn comprised 53 acres, while Windsor contained 140 apartments of one to seven rooms. The Kruses would live out their lives at the Windsor. (The inn was taken over by Lou Cohen of Roycraft Corporation. Cohen ran it as a nightclub until it burned to the ground in 1936.) 

In the years that followed, the Radisson Hotel began a sharp decline as a first-class hotel. The hotel went through many managers who tried to restore it to its old glory under the inexperienced guidance of the Pennsylvania - based trust company. The results were not good. To add to the problems, the Great Depression was costing many millions of Americans their jobs and many millions more their hard-earned livelihood. It was not a great time to be running any sort of business or establishment. Then, in the late '30s, Hitler invaded Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland, providing the spark for World War II. The December 7, 1941, bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese drove America into the global conflict. 

By the mid-'40s, however, the war had effectively ended the Depression and the Allies were about to turn the tables on the Germans and Japanese. For the Radisson, too, help was on the way. A shrewd Irish businessman by the name of Tom Moore had been successfully operating the Coca-Cola bottling franchise in Minneapolis. As a much younger man, Moore had served inconspicuously as a desk clerk at the Radisson soon after it had opened in 1909. Meanwhile, across the river, a brilliant young man named Byron F. Calhoun was managing the Hotel St. Paul. He wanted to buy the Radisson Hotel from the mortgage company and restore the grand old structure to its glory days. He did not, though, have enough money to swing the deal himself so he approached Tom Moore. Together, Calhoun and Moore purchased the Radisson from Philadelphia Fidelity in 1943. 

With Calhoun managing and Moore operating behind the scenes, the hotel started a gradual comeback. The year they took over they opened a new Flame Room restaurant, this one just off the lobby, with an added entrance on Seventh Street. Patterned after a smart, small New York City nightclub, the new Flame Room drew the finest entertainers in the world and would eventually become as well-known as the Radisson Hotel itself. 

Moore bought out Calhoun in 1948, following a long, hard-fought court battle, and became sole owner of the Radisson. Under Moore, who alternated between his Coca-Cola beverage offices in southeast Minneapolis and his office in the hotel, the Radisson continued its resurgence back to elegance (Calhoun, for his part, was hired by Pan American Airlines to direct its own hotel operations, becoming executive vice president of Intercontinental Hotels Corporation in New York. Considered by many in the hospitality industry to be a genius of hotel design and operation, he left a very positive mark on the Radisson Hotel. He died in Greenwich, Connecticut, in 1957.) 

Six hotel managers, including son Bob Moore, served under Tom Moore's direction over the subsequent 20 or so years. Together they systematically eased the Radisson back into national prominence while refurbishing major portions of the hotel. 

In 1947, Moore initiated a $2-million rehab program, adding a larger ballroom off the mezzanine. The original Grand Ball and Banquet Room on the mezzanine was renamed the Gold Room to match the color of this elegant amenity. The Gold Room's chandeliers and general overall opulence provided a magnificent setting for smaller parties and meetings. In the meantime, the larger conventions and meetings were venued in the new Grand Ballroom on the other side of the mezzanine. Under Moore, the second Flame Room grew more popular each year, adding to the Radisson's resurgent fame. The Flame Room featured background music for its shows and dancing by Don McGrane and his Radisson Hotel Flame Room Orchestra. Moore, in addition, booked the finest acts in America, and the public responded by jamming the room nearly every night for both the early dinner and the late-night shows. Specially trained waiters served appreciative guests amidst dazzling arrays of flaming entrees. 

Moore himself occupied his favorite table on the opening night of each new act. He loved the show-biz glitter of the hotel trade, and the entertainers invariably responded by saluting Moore during their acts. Among the most memorable Flame Room entertainers were Hildegarde and the late Carl Brisson, who played the Flame Room more often than any of the room's other fabled stars. Comedian George Gobel got his start at the Flame Room. Other popular performers who thrilled crowds there included Peggy Lee, a native of Jamestown, North Dakota; Rowan and Martin, who went on to television fame; Tito Guizar, Nick Lucas, and the ageless Victor Borge. The dancing DeMarcos, Dorothy Shay, Joe F. Brown, Imogene Coca, Sid Caesar, Milton Berle, Burl Ives, Connie Haines, Abe Burrows, Liberace, and Phyllis Diller also made frequent Flame Room appearances. 

Of course, in its 72 years of operation, the Radisson Hotel has played host to some of the most prominent personalities in the world. They include: Presidents Taft, Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Gerald Ford; Vice Presidents Henry Wallace, Hubert Humphrey, and Walter Mondale; presidential candidate Wendell Wulkie; Secretary of State Cordell Hull; presidential advisor James
Farley; Minnesota Governor Luther Youngdahl; Admiral Bull Halsey; and celebrities Sarah Bernhardt, Jenny Lind, Rudolph Valenti no, Mary Pickford, Al Jolson, Jack Dempsey, Ethel Barrymore, Gloria Swanson, Helen Hayes, Eddie Cantor, Will Rogers, Tom Mix, Lon Chaney, Katharine Hepburn, Alan Ladd, Bob Hope, Henry Fonda, Arthur Godfrey, Robert Cummings, Debbie Reynolds, Roger Williams, and Carmel Quinn. 

With the Radisson's fortunes on the upswing - and with the convention business on the rise in Minneapolis during the '50s - Moore knew he needed more guest rooms and public space. In fact, he realized, the hotel needed more of everything, including another major renovation and addition. 

In 1957, Moore launched a $7-million refurbishing program that would add 140 rooms, a brand-new and larger Flame Room, a new "arcade" space for retail shops, a larger Star of the North Grand Ballroom, and a completely overhauled lobby area to give the hotel an up-to-date look. (The new rooms would bring the hotel's total room count to 565.) The improvement program also added a new rust-and-white-colored facade over the Seventh Street front of the Radisson's 16 stories. The refurbishing effort was completed in 1961. 

To help with never-ending cash-flow demands, as well as to help cover the $7-million refurbishing bill, Moore looked for someone to join him in the ownership of the hotel. He eventually found that man in the person of Minnesota businessman Curtis Carlson, who had rocketed into national prominence with his Gold Bond trading stamp business in the '40s and '50s. Carlson, as it happened, was looking at the time for some good investments in other fields. He figured that Moore would be a compatible partner. 

Carlson and several other local businessmen bought half interest in the hotel in 1960, with the proviso that Moore or any one of the other partners could pull out at any time. 

In 1962, Tom Moore decided it was time to prepare for his retirement. He sold his share of the hotel to Carlson who had by that time bought out the other outside investors-and the Minneapolis entrepreneur became the hotel's sixth owner. Moore died in 1967. 

Carlson embarked on an ambitious expansion of the Radisson name - first around Minnesota and then across America and eventually throughout the world. He began the outward growth in the Minneapolis suburbs, opening the brand-new Radisson South Hotel in Bloomington in 1970. The next stop was Duluth, Minnesota, on Lake Superior. It wasn't long after that the Radisson name and flaming "R" symbol became familiar around the globe. 

Today there are more than 350 Radisson hotels, inns, and resorts on six continents. 

Here at home it was Carlson and the late impresario, Al Sheehan, who brought the Golden Strings to the Flame Room in 1963. Carlson had seen a dazzling violin show in Mexico City in 1962. He asked Sheehan to put a similar act together, and the new ensemble, named the Golden Strings, opened in the Flame Room on Valentine's Day 1963. The group - made up of eight violins, a bass violist, and two baby grand pianos - played the room until 1981, when the hotel closed. Performing before more than two-million people over more than 18 years. the Golden Strings was, according to Variety magazine, the longest running violin show in the world.  (Carlson also put the first real "flame" in the room when he installed two giant, gold-plated, gas-powered torches that created brilliant colored flames during the Golden Strings shows.) 

During the 1970s, CSA, Inc., Carlson's design group, directed several multimillion dollar renovations of the downtown Minneapolis Radisson. The organization upgraded the Star of the North ballroom with eight grand chandeliers of imported European crystal, refurbished most of the 565 guest rooms, recarpeted the hotel's mezzanine and 16 floors, replaced the lobby furniture, and remodeled the hotel's 15 smaller meeting rooms. 

The grand downtown Minneapolis Radisson Hotel closed in late 1981. The structure was razed in early 1982. Demand for more convention space, larger guest rooms, and more expansive parking facilities played a major role in the Radisson Hotel Corporation's decision to erect a new hotel on the site. Thus a new, 357-room Radisson Hotel opened in 1987 as a hotel and office complex known collectively as Plaza VII at the same central location on Seventh Street. 

As it was in 1909, the Radisson once more became the center of social life in the heart of downtown Minneapolis. And once again, it stands next door to an old friend, Dayton's Department Store. Dayton's has also refurbished its retail store to keep pace with changing times. Both will head into the 21st century as they did into the 20th - two businesses vitally important to each other and to a healthy economy in downtown Minneapolis. 

Reprinted with permission: Radisson Hotel Corp. January, 1998


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