Historic North Loop

Former Hotels/Boarding Houses On 1st Street

With business booming in the late 1800s, there was a need for affordable lodging in the Warehouse District—not only for businessmen arriving by train to visit the warehouses and factories, but also for many of the workers.

There were at least six of these boarding houses on First Street North. Five of them are still standing.

Before it was a foundry, this was the American House hotel at 125 N 1st Street. As you can see in a Minneapolis Journal article, smallpox was a big concern in 1906, and all the rooms had to be fumigated and residents quarantined.

The lower article from 1896 illustrates how rowdy things could get at these boarding houses, with occasional brawls making the news.


The Britannia Hotel stood on what is now Spoon and Stable’s side parking lot. Other than that, though, we don’t have a lot of information on it.

In this photo from the Hennepin County Library (believed to be in the late 80s), large spools of paper are outside the abandoned structure, presumably from the Fisher Paper Company down the block.

The Chicago House at 124 N 1st Street also dealt with serious smallpox concerns in 1888, just a few years after it opened.

The article details how an infected resident was removed and taken to “the pest house.” It also notes, “The Chicago House is one of a number of cheap boarding houses in a vicinity in which day laborers and transient men of the poorest classes have their abode.”

The infected man believed he contracted smallpox from a pair of pants he purchased at a second-hand store on 4th Street.

The Foster House at the corner of 1st Street and 1st Avenue was built by one of the city’s first blacksmiths, Stephen E. Foster, who was known for his fine carriages, sleighs and wagons. He had 35 rooms for $1 a night, and advertised “modern conveniences, electric lights, etc.”

The Hennepin Hotel at 204 N 1st St. also advertised rooms for $1 a night or $4 a week. If you look up at the upper left part of the building, there’s a stone that reads, “M.B. McConnel 1888.” McConnel was the original proprietor of the hotel, joined later by a fellow Irishman, P.J. McGrath.

The old Market Hotel at 1st Street and 1st Avenue would’ve been the closest boarding house/hotel to the Union Depot on Hennepin Avenue. It made the news in 1895 when a pair of thieves roamed the neighborhood with skeleton keys and tried to make off with coats from the various boarding houses. But a patrolman saw their act and hauled them away.

Note: Many of the above photos were taken in July 2020, when the Archive Apartment complex was under construction between the old Chicago House and Foster House.

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