Loop Back: Hewing Hotel
Built in 1897 for companies distributing carriages, wagons, plows and other farm machinery, the warehouse at 300 North Washington also took a spin as an early car dealership that drew plenty of headlines.
The first big tenants were Dean and Company, Milwaukee Harvester and Van Brunt. Ghost signs for the last two are still visible on the west side of the building. The high ceilings on the ground floor allowed companies to display threshers, manure spreaders and harvesters in the showrooms with big picture windows along Washington Avenue.
And it was one of the first warehouses in this area that had tracks leading right into the basement level, for easier loading and unloading of freight cars.
When motorized vehicles started gaining popularity, one of the farm implement dealers experimented with selling them too, and found great success.
P. J. Downes became the exclusive dealer of Rambler touring cars in this region, selling 400 of them in just the first six months of 1910.
Downes was good at getting his name in the newspapers. He delivered a Rambler limo to Archbishop Ireland in 1911 while also talking city leaders into buying Rambler models of squad cars and an ambulance.
He provided vehicles to a theatrical group traveling from Minneapolis to St. Paul, which prompted a reporter to write: “Has it come to a point where theatrical companies have discarded railroads and taken to the automobile for transporting them, together with bag and baggage from town to town?”
Downes sold cars, engines and farm implements here until opening a new dealership on Hennepin Avenue in 1926.
Among the other companies that used this warehouse: Appleton Manufacturing (implements), Monitor Drill (implements), Robinson-Miller (implements), Parry light vehicles (carriages), and The Rumford Company (baking powder).
In 2016, the fully-remodeled building debuted as The Hewing Hotel. Among its many accolades, it was named Best Hotel in the Midwest by Conde Nast readers in 2018, and one the Most Instagrammable Hotels in the U.S. by National Geographic.
We have several more pages of neighborhood history in our Historic North Loop section.
By Mike Binkley, North Loop Neighborhood Association