The Superior Express -

Optimism was high when new Superior hotel opened in 1930


Ninety years ago the opening of a new hotel in downtown Superior was the big news of the week. At that time the new hotel was a vast improvement over other lodging accommodations available in Superior. With five railroads lines regularly bringing passengers to Superior, the lodging business was big business here in 1930 and the new hotel was a welcome addition.

Today only two of those hotel structures survive. Neither are open for overnight guests. Both the Union and Nebraskan hotel buildings have been adapted for other uses. The Union, built in 1880, is Superior’s first brick building. It is now used as a quilt shop and commodities house. The Nebraskan, today known as the Vestey Center, is now used for offices, senior center and apartments for the elderly. Though there is only 50 years difference in their ages, the Nebraskan Hotel construction is much different than that used for the Union.

The following story is adapted from what appeared in this newspaper 90 years ago this week.

The new Hotel Nebraska, which began accommodating guests early last week, had its informal opening to the public on Thursday evening. It was estimated that more than a thousand people from Superior and a wide range of surrounding territory visited the hotel during the evening, most of them merely staying long enough to make a casual inspection of the guest rooms and the various downstairs departments, but a considerable crowd staying long enough to make merry at the dance in the formal banquet room, provided by the management. Music was furnished by the Lincoln Hotel Entertainers of Franklin, and punch and wafers were served by Misses Doris Denny and Marguerite and Edith Louise Butler. Everyone in attendance at the informal meeting was enthusiastic over the appointments and furnishings of the new hostelry.

At seven-fifteen next Monday evening, the hotel will be officially opened with a banquet given by the Superior Chamber of Commerce at which the builder, Mr. Robert Turner, and the other directors of the Turner Hotel Co., R.B. Newbury, L.L. Burchinal, Arch Bonecutter and D.F. Stanley, with their ladies, will be the honor guests. Invitations for the affair were sent to a considerable number of Nebraska state officers and men connected with large businesses of Nebraska and Kansas, as well as some of the most prominent newspaper men of the section. The local demand for tickets was far greater than the number of persons possible to accommodate.

The opening will be in the nature of a banquet to be served in the formal dining room. Omer Marshall, president of the Superior Chamber of Commerce will be in charge and will introduce John H. Agee, former Superior lawyer and now the general manager of the Lincoln Telephone and Telegraph Company, who will serve as toastmaster. The official welcome to the hotel owners and management will be made by Dr. M. S. Lentner, Mayor of Superior, to which Mr. Turner will respond. Toasts will be given by Hon. Roy E. Cochran, Lincoln, state engineer; L.J. Hoenig, Omaha, sales manager of the Nebraska Cement Company; O.H. Amwinkel, Lincoln, commissioner of the Nebraska Manufacturers Association; and Will M. Maupin, Hastings, well known columnist and editor of the Hastings Democrat. The address of the evening will be given by Hon. Arthur J. Weaver, governor of Nebraska. Hon, John E. Curtiss, Lincoln, chairman of the state railway commission was also to be on the toast list, but has just notified the committee that business calls him to Washington and he will be unable to be in attendance.

Preliminary arrangements had been made to broadcast the program at the banquet, through Station K.M.M.J. at Clay Center, for the benefit of the people in this and the surrounding communities who will be unable to be present. However, the station has no evening allotment of broadcasting time and an effort to secure special permission for this broadcast was unsuccessful.

The Ted Adams Orchestra of Omaha has been engaged to furnish a program of concert music during the banquet. Following the speeches, the tables will be cleared from the dining room and the guests permitted to mingle according to the dictates of Terpsichore. Those of a more serious turn of mind will be granted the opportunity of informal visiting and inspecting the different departments of the hotel.

As this hotel opens for business, holds its informal opening reception to the public and finally is officially opened by the city’s commercial club, it may not be out of place to recall briefly its history as set out from time to time in the columns of The Express:

Realizing for several years the lack of adequate hotel accommodations, the business men of Superior made an endeavor to interest different hotel building organizations and individuals. Largely due to these efforts, several different hotel building propositions were made to the people of the community, but all failed to make the grade although one in about 1923 or 1924 came rather close to ringing the bell.

Then the community was unfortunate enough to suffer a few misfortunes in the way of short crops, bank and business failures, and the matter of hotel building was given little thought. When, about Feb. 1, 1929, just a month after the community’s second bank failure in 20 months and following an extremely poor agricultural season, Robert B. Turner of Mankato informed members of the Superior Chamber of Commerce that he was interested in establishing a hostelry here, it was hard to believe that he was in earnest. However, he soon convinced them that such was the case and finally proposed that he would contract to build a 50 room, all modern and fireproof hotel here upon the condition that a particular site located at Fifth Street and Central Avenue would be purchased and turned over to him by the community.

Turner had gained an excellent reputation as a hotel man from his several years of management of the Hotel Correll at Mankato.

It was thought it would be highly desirable to have him in charge of a hotel here. They accordingly decided to secure tentative prices from the owner of the lots desired by Turner and bringing the matter up before the next regular Chamber meeting.

An investigation was made which revealed that this particular site would cost in the neighborhood of $15,000.00. To raise such a sum with financial conditions as they were seemed somewhat of a hopeless task. However, a soliciting committee, consisting of H.C. Johnston, B.C. Mendell and Ernest Bossemeyer was appointed and commenced assiduously to call up on the citizens of the community to try to interest them in the proposition and to secure their financial support. The response was surprisingly fine and before the end of the month, a sufficient sum had been pledged to assure the success of the project.

By the time the plans for the building could be drawn up and arrangements made for the incorporation of a building company and to finance the proposition, it was nearly June 1, and upon the approximate date, the pledges having been heretofore collected in, the site was purchased and turned over to Mr. Turner. About two weeks later, the old buildings on the site were sold, the ground razed and excavation commenced. Above-ground work was commenced about August 1. Outside work on the building was completed about December 1.

Mont J. Green, Manhattan, Kan., was the general contractor and M. E. Brady was sent by him to be superintendent of construction. The building is fireproof and constructed with a steel frame closed in concrete. The hotel is approximately one hundred by sixty feet, three stories in height and has 50 actual guest rooms, half of which are supplied with baths.

The downstairs rooms include a handsome 50-foot square lobby, the Hotel Coffee Shop, kitchen, formal dining room, writing room, washrooms, the Hobson barber shop. The Aabel Beaute Shoppe, The Fashion Cleaners’ Shop and three other rooms which will probably house a drug or gift store, bus station, telegraph office and other like businesses.

The outside of the building is finished with cream brick shipped from Oskaloose, Missouri, and limestone shipped from Bedford. The downstairs rooms are floored in tile and marble. The lobby and formal dining rooms have been neatly decorated with a modernistic design of cast plaster. The walls of the downstairs rooms are all tastefully painted and embellished.

The upstairs halls and guest rooms are attractively papered and full carpeted throughout. Every room is supplied with running hot and cold water, telephone, electric light fixtures and electric connections for fans, bed lights and other fixtures. The telephone system of the hotel is especially interesting. It is provided with a one-position, common battery, private branch exchange, which is equipped for 60 stations and three central office trunks. Public telephone requirements have been met by the installation, on the lobby floor, of two public telephone booths for the convenience of guests and friends. Work on the installation of this system was commenced on March 1, under the supervision of L.O. McClinton, manager of the local exchange of the Lincoln Telephone and Telegraph Company, and was completed March 7, under the direction of Installation Foreman O. P. Kro. of Lincoln.

The furniture is all of the highest grade. Simmons beds, spring and mattresses are used throughout the guest rooms and the dressers, writing desks and other furniture articles are attractively finished in walnut. The divans and lounging chairs in the lobby are the last word in comfort.

The fixtures for the coffee shop and kitchen were furnished by the Omaha Fixture and Supply Company. The color motif of the former is green with green walls and green tables, chairs and fixtures. The three main items of equipment in the kitchen are the huge coal-burning range, an $80 dish washer and an adequate electric refrigerator, the latter furnished by the Superior Electric Shop. However, the lesser articles of equipment by which the kitchen is made complete, are not lacking.

From the night guests were first accepted, March 31, the hotel has enjoyed an excellent patronage. Mr. and Mrs. C.E. Brown lately proprietors of a restaurant at Belleville, but for many years engaged in hotel work in Texas and other points in the south, are in direct charge of the establishment. Miss Georgia Estes, formerly an employee in the Correll, Mr. Turner’s hotel in Mankato, is in charge of the Coffee Shop. The latter place has been crowded to capacity almost from its opening day.


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