Klondike Hotel History
The Manilla Area Historical Association purchased the Klondike Hotel also know as the Park Hotel. The Association is restoring the 1897 Italianate structure to its original condition to preserve the memories of when the railroad was in its "Golden Age". The Klondike Railroad Hotel and Museum in Manilla has been placed on the National Register of Historical Places.
Klondike Railroad Hotel & Interpretive Center on Railroad History
The Klondike Hotel was built on the street that in 1897 was named Railroad Street. It faced to the west toward the bustling Milwaukee tracks and depot. An access road was completed shortly after the hotel was built which directly connected the Hotel with the Depot. The local drayman was kept busy shuttling passengers and luggage along this roadway.
The town did not reach its full potential to be the large center that the Milwaukee Co. had planned because an ICC decision, but neither was it just another small town with a railroad running through it. It was, because of its location as a junction point, an important railroad center to the company. In 1911, the Milwaukee R.R. Company named one of its Pullman cars "The Manilla".
For some time, a portion of the upper floor of the Hotel was leased by the railroad company to provide lay-over accommodations for their upper echelon personnel.
Climbing the stairway to the second story of the Hotel is like taking a step back into the 19th century...very few changes have been make since it provided rooms to weary passengers and railroad employees.
Some of the unique features include transom windows above the doors, original numbers on the doors and beds, some of the original furniture, and fire escape ropes secured to large metal rings, attached to the woodwork below each window. These would be thrown out of the windows in case of fire for the guest to slide down to the ground. Also remaining is a metal coin box used by R.R. personnel to place money owed for board. It was fastened to a wooden desktop and attached to the wall.
The increased production and use of the automobile for travel and transporting of goods signaled the end of the "Golden Age" for the Milwaukee and the other railroad companies. The Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad Company underwent foreclosure in 1926 and was sold at public auction.
The Manilla Area Historical Association purchased the Hotel property including one and a half lots in 1995 to rehabilitate not only the historic building but to preserve the railroad heritage of the community. The significance of the building is because of its affiliation with the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad Company.
The Hotel was erected in 1897 by contractor H.J. Kopak for owner/proprietor F.M. Offineer. Construction was started in July and almost completed in September of the same year. The town was desperately in need of an additional hotel at that time to accommodate railroad passengers and railroad workers (there were already 3 hotels in Manilla). Manilla became a boom town overnight.
Status of Klondike Hotel Renovation
The Manilla Historical Association is excited to announce that the historic Hotel's foundation renovation is almost completed. This fall the building was lifted and the excavation work beneath the building finished. This was followed by the laying of the building's footings and drainage system. The next step was to pour the cement side walls, steps, back stoop, and basement floor. Footings were also put in place for the front porch. Only the brick facade which will be applied around the top of the foundation remains to be put on by the masonry workers in the spring. Some of the labor during foundation renovation was volunteer. The town of Manilla donated its employees' time to load, clean up, and haul away huge piles of old brick and cement from the old foundation and basement. Ten-Point construction of Denison, a private road construction company with Manilla ties, donated a day and a half of time from their workers and their heavy equipment to take out the old cement front porch. Local volunteers used tractors and a bobcat to fill in the trench around the building when the side walls were completed.
The next phase of the project is the restoration of the remainder of the exterior of the building. This includes removal of the old slate siding and repairing/replacing original siding as needed, replacing inappropriate windows and doors with those of the original style of architecture, the restoring of the front porch, coal chute and basement doors to their original style and form, roof repair, and guttering. For this work, Manilla has been awarded a $144,000 Enhancement Grant through the Iowa Department of Transportation. This work will take place during the year of 2000-2001. The Manilla Historical Association is now working to raise $28,000 as a match for the D.O.T. grant.
Memberships, Donations, Tours & Special Events
Information is available for memberships, donations, tours & special events, and Klondike Hotel articles and memorabilia by writing:
412 9th Ave.
Manilla, IA 51454