By Kristina Kapitza
There’s little evidence left today of the many hotels that once populated Grand Forks. One estimate suggests that at one time, up to 26 hotels flourished in this area. In 1906 alone, 10 hotels and saloons were granted licences by the city.
There were several small hotels up the North Fork, three large hotels by the CPR station in West Grand Forks (once Columbia), and a large number scattered around downtown.
The first hotel in Grand Forks was the Grande Prairie, opened in the 1890s by Joseph L. Wideman, in what was then Columbia. This hotel was replaced in 1909 by the Grand Forks Hotel, built by William Bonthron for Frank Hartinger Sr. (who also owned the Columbia Brewery). It continued to be owned by the Hartinger family until 1944, when it was purchased by the Farions.
One of the oldest and longest lasting hotels in Grand Forks was the Russell, also known as the Royal, and later renamed the Longhorn. It was built in 1898 and destroyed by fire in 2000.
The large and opulent Yale Hotel was opened in 1899 and designed by the architect McPherson. It was originally located on the North Fork of the Kettle River, on the south side of what is now Market Avenue. It was advertised as the “Grandest Hotel West of Illinois,” and featured plush Belgium carpets, French china and a three-storey fireplace. Warm rooms at the Yale were advertised for the winter at $10 per room.
In 1908, the Yale was destroyed by fire, along with several other hotels and businesses. It was uninsured and thus not rebuilt.
The Traunweisers purchased another burnt out hotel called the Windsor, on the corner of Second Street and Market Avenue, which became the new Yale. The rebuilt Yale passed through several different owners, who added brick additions, until it was finally destroyed in 1991 by fire.
Another grand hotel called the Winnipeg Hotel was built in 1900 on the corner of Central Avenue and Fourth Street. This hotel included a corner tower and bay windows, and was run by Sam J. Miller. It luckily escaped the fires of 1908 and 1911 but was torn down after an arson attempt damaged part of it in 2012.
The Province Hotel was built in 1909 by Emil Larson. It opened with grand festivities, including music, dancing, and a free lunch at midnight. It was a solid brick building with 51 furnished rooms, hard plaster walls, and was considered fireproof until it partially destroyed by fire a few years after it was built. It was rebuilt, and continued to operate until it was burned down in January 1986.