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1889 Wausaukee Hotel History

The 1889 Hotel Wausaukee was built by a man named Clawson of Oconto on lot #11 & 12 in block number 3 of the Monroe and Merrill's First Addition to the Village of Wausaukee, in Marinette County Wisconsin. The building and property changed hands several times until sold to the Skidmore Land Company. Gould Smith operated the hotel as a manager for the Land Company and then purchased it and operated it on his own for a time. Many other people thru the years managed the Hotel before it was sold to Ted and Hattie Krzewina.

There have been 6 Hotels identified and located within the Village Limits. Only the Hotel Wausaukee still stands with the others having been torn down and the land re-used for other purposes. With up to 2000 people living in the surrounding village area at the turn of the century working in the logging industry, boarding houses and hotels were quite prevalent. The Hotel Wausaukee had 13 sleeping rooms, saloon, apartment for the owners and served dinner for its guests continuously from 1889 until 1984. Rooms were still being billed at $7.00 per night up until it closed in 1984. The longest recorded owners were Ted and Hattie Krzewina who owned it for 48 years and maintained it as the Wausaukee Hotel. The Hartnell's have owned it from 1985 until the present time.

The original Hotel had 13 bedrooms with12 upstairs and 1 downstairs, and one and a half bathrooms shared by boarders and the owner's/managers families. When more rooms were needed, children were moved to accommodate. Four of the bedrooms were only large enough for twin beds. Bedrooms ranged in size to accommodate one twin, one full or two full beds with varying amounts of room for dressers and chairs. Five bedrooms upstairs (2,3,4,5,6) contain fully functional single sinks. Bedrooms 1, 7, 8 and our sewing/TV and walk in closet room are without sinks. Electrical for the building came from a 40 amp fuse box using knot & tube wire and supplied one wire hanging from the ceiling in bedrooms with a light bulb socket and two electrical outlets. Extension cords were then run from these outlets when needed. Propane was used for the kitchen stove and the tank was located just north of the former well house concrete base.

In the earliest of years several of the hotel owners came upon owning the structure thru card game winnings. A second north addition was added shortly after it was originally built in 1889 creating the original floor space of over 4830 square feet. The only surviving one of the three Hotel Registry books is currently in the Amberg Museum on display and shows various people renting rooms for daily or weekly use.

One of the most unique owners of the Hotel Wausaukee was the Menominee River Brewing Company who had to purchase the building in order to sell/serve liquor & beer and in our area. Kegs and bottles of beer were brought into the area on horse drawn wagons driven from the Menominee brewery to their saloons. One of the photos displayed in our building shows the horse drawn wagon & a driver used to transport the alcohol between the factory and their outlets. We currently have three of the former beer bottles from the Menominee Brewery on display in the lobby that were given to us by a customer who found them while he was digging the foundation of his building.

The beer hall was originally in the lobby and then later moved to an adjacent room which is now currently an office in the south east corner. Men drinking the beer had opportunities to relieve themselves either in the small bath below the front staircase or the one hole outhouse just outside the beer rooms exit door and inside the former two story barn. Sanding and bleaching the bathroom floor could not totally fix the results of bad aim on the part of the beer hall participants. The bath room wood floor was removed during a renovation and  cement board added, new dry wall, false ceiling with fan for ventilation, linoleum tiles laid and fixtures repositioned to more modern standards in 2010.

Above the four 35" x 52" display windows in the hotel lobby you can see two original leaded stain glass windows. These windows were installed by the Menominee River Brewing Company and they had a set just like it at their Menominee factory. There was a third stained glass window above the front lobby door that appears in two of our original photos, it is behind the men standing/sitting in front of the hotel. This center transom window was replaced by a metal panel for some unknown reason. No history was passed on to us as to what happened to that window or when it may have been replaced.

The Hotel property originally came with a two story barn just east of the main building that contained a one hole outhouse with a loft storage above, a stair case leading up to a second floor storage room on the south and a ground floor storage area below it. The south facing room below the 2nd floor store room functioned as an ice storage room before the advent of electric refrigerators. Ice was cut from lakes and transported to the Ice Storage House. The ice was placed into the ground floor portion of the building and each layer was covered with straw for insulation. It was then sold a block at a time for Ice Boxes. This space was later converted to a two stall garage. A cistern was located directly under the barn and has since been filled in and the new garage slab built above it. Directly North of the garage is a 1000 gallon concrete containment structure that was used by Ted and Hattie Krzewina to sell minnows to sportsman. Currently it is being used for sand storage. An abandoned dry cistern still can be seen directly below the laundry room by entering thru a trap door in the floor which allows access to plumbing fixtures for the laundry and crawl space in the northeast corner.

The original heating was done with free standing wood stoves which were vented thru chimney's. Heat would drift up the stair wells, and a grate left in the floor of room 2. The wood lobby floor has a stain from the cast iron stove floor plate that is still evident. The wood stoves were replaced with a more efficient stoker coal furnace using an electric auger feed box and one pipe steam radiator system. Multiple hundred pound cast iron radiators were strategically located in portions of the building and the vertical supply pipes were exposed in many rooms to allow access to the upper floors where the radiators were positioned. Vertical pipes to the second floor were exposed in the dining room /studio, kitchen, lobby, West hallway, and office 2. This furnished a much more even heat throughout the structure. Besides the radiators, the standing vertical pipes also added heat to the rooms they were built in. Radiators were upstairs in bedroom 3, at the 2nd floor exit door upstairs in the hallway, room 2, the current living room and downstairs with two in the kitchen, one in the sewing room on the northwest, two in the downstairs lobby, one in the dining room, office 2, and at the base of the front staircase in the hall.

The stoker coal bin could hold approximately 24 hours worth of stoker coal before it had to be restocked. The radiator system heated the hallways & larger rooms, steam went up the pipes and heated the large iron radiators spaced all over the building, then the cooled water would return to the furnace thru the same pipe. Bedrooms had transom windows above the doors to allow heat to migrate into the room when the doors were shut. Water for the boiler system and washing was drawn from multiple cisterns located under the foundation of the barn and hotel. All of the cisterns were connected to the downspouts of the roofs to collect water. Dirt in the water would sink to the bottom of the cistern and water was then siphoned out above the dirt line using a handle lever water pump. One pump was originally located at the end of a 5 1/2 foot kitchen sink in the residence and was still functional at the time of our purchase. Potable water was supplied by a well that was located north of the main building from a well house with concrete base. The well house was demolished but the base still exists. All wells in the village were disabled and filled with cement as part of the ordinances governing wells within the village and their capping once a new sewer/water treatment plant was built for the Village.

The Hotel property has Hwy 141 on its west frontage, Jackson Avenue on its south, a village alley on its east and retaining walls to the higher elevation on the north and adjacent Decor Products Factory building.

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