Grand Pacific Hotel
The Grand Pacific Hotel was a luxurious hotel located on the corner of Broadway Avenue & 4th Street, on the site now occupied by the Wells Fargo Building. The hotel also housed other businesses, including a steak house and, for most of its existence, Finney Drug. Throughout its existence, the hotel was either built, re-built, or significantly renovated at least four times, partly due to several major fires.
The hotel’s roots dated back to July 1880 when Louis Peterson opened the Pacific Hotel, named in honor of the Northern Pacific Railroad. Following his death in 1889, ownership of the hotel passed onto Henry Tatley. Peterson’s son, John, later became a clerk at the hotel under Tatley and quickly worked his way up into management.
The original wooden structure was replaced in 1906 with a modern building. In 1915, a fire badly damaged the hotel, forcing the ten year-old building to undergo extensive renovation.
Peterson Family Resume Ownership
When Tatley retired in 1924, John and his brother, Frederick, purchased both the Grand Pacific and Bismarck Hotels. John passed away in 1940, but Frederick continued its operation until his retirement in 1944, at which time ownership transferred to John’s wife and sons, John Jr. and Vernon.
The Grand Pacific Hotel was nearly destroyed by another fire on June 5, 1954. The blaze was started when Francis Stram, a Northwestern Bell employee staying on the fourth floor, had fallen asleep with a lit cigarette. Stram was sentenced to 90 days in jail for starting the fire, however his sentence was suspended shortly after his conviction.
Only ten rooms were damaged by the first itself, but the hotel had suffered extensive smoke and water damage, particularly in the north wing where the fire had started. Damages were initially estimated at $50,000, however that estimate quickly grew to $150,000.
When a restaurant housed within the hotel reopened four days later, its owners covered the water stains with posters promoting fire prevention, including a large sign that read “Don’t smoke in Bed – The Ashes May Fall on The Floor”.
The building immediately underwent a major renovation, completed in May 1955, marking the fourth time the hotel was either built or significantly renovated in its history. The final costs of the renovation were $350,000.
Increased competition from modern hotels, most notably the Holiday Inn, opened in 1962, and a major northward shift in through traffic from the completion of Interstate 94 in 1965 put a considerable strain on the Grand Pacific Hotel and its long-time rival Patterson Hotel. Shortly after the hotel’s closure, the building was demolished in 1974 and the current Wells Fargo Building was built on the site.
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