OLD WORLD SERVICE THROUGHOUT THE AGES.
Architects from the Minnesota firm of E.P. Bassford outfitted the four-story Italianate structure in grand style with handsome furnishings, Brussels carpets in the lobby and English velvet carpet in the second floor ladies’ parlor. On opening night, guests marveled at the hotel’s modern features, including steam heat, hot and cold running water, gas on every floor and a state-of-the-art kitchen.
The St. James was an immediate sensation and became the hub of activity in Red Wing overnight. The hotel’s first floor included three dining rooms, the kitchen, office and baggage storage while the lower level featured a parlor, billiard hall, barbershop, public baths and four water closets. The second floor featured a ladies parlor, bridal suite and two ladies’ water closets. An elegant ballroom occupied the fourth floor.
Located within walking distance from the Red Wing train depot and the steamboat docks, the hotel was booked to capacity every night with travelers and boarders. The St. James cooks developed such a fantastic reputation that the railroad adjusted its timetables to allow passengers to disembark and enjoy dinners at the hotel. Luminaries such as President Rutherford B. Hayes were known to indulge on the fantastic kitchen fare.
Now owned by the Red Wing Shoe Company, the St. James continues to offer guests the same medley of Old World service, cutting-edge amenities and culinary delights that it did on opening day almost 140 years ago.