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The History of Lafayette Club
The Lafayette Club, originally named ‘Lafayette Hotel’, was first built by James J. Hill in 1882 as a “come to the lake hotel” for his railroad riders. The Lafayette Club that we’ve come to know and love still stands in that same spot, and has remained a popular gathering place for friends and families to enjoy.

The Lafayette Club – originally named ‘Lafayette Hotel’– was first built by James J. Hill in 1882 as a “come to the lake hotel” for his railroad riders.

The original layout was such that the railroad could stop in its tracks directly in front of the hotel. This allowed summer guests from the deep south fleeing the sweltering heat to step right out of the train and into the most desirable time of the year on Lake Minnetonka. Even in 1882, convenience was the name of the game.

Lafayette Hotel opened on the Fourth of July and the splendor of the celebration was equal to the immense splendor of the hotel.

Grand Beginnings
Originally boasting 300 rooms, the Lafayette Hotel began as one of the largest, most popular, and most ornate hotels in the United States. The beauty and fame of this hotel spread from coast to coast as prominent people and many presidents (Ulysses S. Grant, William H. Taft, Chester Arthur, and Adlai Stevenson) were guests there.

The late 1800’s were a time of grandeur for the wealthier folk in society Life at lakeside resorts was no exception. Each year, the hotel would close for the season on October 1 and James J. Hill would leave for the winter. When he left, he would haul much of the inventory of the hotel on to the leg of the Northern Pacific Railroad –which he owned – and use the items for the railroad passengers.

 
A Few Rough Years

Although the hotel opened in 1882 and experienced extreme success, it was short-lived. The 1890’s brought less business to lakeside resorts as further westward expansion took place, which drew business to new and exciting parts of the west coast. The Lafayette Hotel was not the only resort to suffer. In fact, almost all large lakeside resorts closed at that time.

On October 5, 1897, after everyone left for the season, a blaze ripped through the fantastic, 5-story structure and the Lafayette Hotel burned down. The circumstances of this fire remain mysterious because the hotel was losing so much money that James J. Hill was planning to tear it down the following year.

  A Tough Return to Greatness

After this fire, another clubhouse was erected by the original founders of the Lafayette Club and was once again a popular gathering place for 20 years. But then, in 1922, the Lafayette Club suffered another great fire and burned to the ground for the second time.

Determined to remain, the founders rebuilt once more and now, the Lafayette Club that we’ve come to know and love still stands in the same spot and has remained a popular gathering place for friends and families to enjoy.


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