“Living in a historic building costs money, causes headaches and creates many surprises — both pleasant and off-putting — but once you've felt all those emotions, you can't go back.”
Many in Lindsborg have a piece of the Brunswick Hotel — a chair, the fireplace or even just a memory.
Over the years, this historic building has been a warehouse for a box factory, a restaurant, private club, a bed and breakfast, professional office space and a home for current owner Kathi Patterson, who owns the building with her husband Eric Monder.
“Living in a historic building costs money, causes headaches and creates many surprises — both pleasant and off-putting — but once you've felt all those emotions, you can't go back,” Patterson said. “You've been sucked into that building's mystery, story, and strivings.”
Soon, someone new will become part of its history now that it’s for sale, but unlike other buildings on the market, the Brunswick has more than a 100-year history touched by many.
In 1874, five years after the founding of Lindsborg, Judge S. A. LaBoyteaux built the first hotel on the southwest corner of Grant and Main Streets, reports the Smoky Valley Historical Association. In 1887, millinery store owner Sarah Jenkins owned the property and sold it to the Lindsborg Hotel Company for $2,560. The company proceeded with the construction of a new building at the cost of $22,000.
Del Anderson, author of a 1987 Lindsborg News Record article, wrote "the grand structure was red brick, locally pressed, trimmed with limestone brought from Manhattan, (Kansas). It contained a lobby, large dining room, second-floor parlor and 33 guest rooms. The hotel had a coach with a tasseled top to take guests to and from the train depot."
“There was a fine dining room way back in the 1900s,” said Chris Abercrombie, president of the Smoky Valley Historical Association. “It was also the main hotel where salesmen could come in and do trunk shows. They had showroom areas in the hotel where these trunk shows would be held, and area merchants would come and look at the latest fashions and whatnot.”
The dining room is also what many Lindsborg residents remember, but under a different name.
“Although there's a room everyone calls the ballroom, the Brunswick surprisingly never saw much dancing. When Mr. Weddle started working on plans to have dances there, he was told by the powers-that-be that it was illegal. After that no one really tried,” Patterson said. “After the big renovation in modern times, many current residents of Lindsborg recall sitting in the Brunswick late at night looking out over the city, and especially memorable times of watching the snow coming down, blanketing Lindsborg in drifts of snow.”
E. M. and Cora Weddle managed the hotel until it was sold in 1946 to the Lindsborg American Legion, where they remained until 1967. After that, the Brunswick went through a succession of owners and users, including Robert and Doris Elliot, who removed the deteriorating third floor in 1976.
Though the building is one floor shorter than originally, it still stands as one of Lindsborg’s landmarks and gathering spaces. Many residents can think of an evening out to dinner, a school event or meeting at the Brunswick.
“The last large public dinner that was held in the Brunswick was a dinner for Anatoly Karpov, founder of the Chess School in Lindsborg that bears his name,” Patterson said. “More than 80 people filled the Ballroom that night.”
Today, bits of the Brunswick live on — the bar from the lounge resides across the street in the Ol Stuga, the fireplace was moved brick by brick to Lindsborg’s Emil Pinkall American Legion Post 140 location, and restaurants around town have chairs and tables that were once in the dining room.
“The building is structurally sound, as far as I know, although all the jerry-rigged fixes different owners did over the years have taken their toll. Renovation had begun inside, so the interior shows different stages of deconstruction,” Patterson said. “Our plan is to sell it to someone who will renovate the building, and will respect and honor the historical significance the building has in the minds and memories of members of the community.”