Grant House in Rush City

Original Grant House in 1881. MNHS: MC5.9 RC3.1 p4

Original Grant House in 1881. MNHS: MC5.9 RC3.1 p4

Rush City was platted in 1870 by the Western Land Association, a subsidiary of the Lake Superior and Mississippi Railroad Company that later became known as the St. Paul and Duluth Railroad. The rail line became an essential link between Duluth and the Twin Cities, and Rush City evolved into a major trade and service center. This rapid growth led to housing shortages for newcomers hoping to set up business in town, and for railroad passengers hoping for a comfy place to lay their head. 

Several hotels soon emerged to fill the need. One of them was the Grant House. Colonel R.H. Grant--a second cousin of President Ulysses S. Grant--previously operated a hotel in Hinckley and believed he knew what visitors to Rush City would want in a hotel. He built a large, home-like structure with wide porches and genteel finishes just east of the railroad tracks in 1880. It quickly gained a reputation as one of the finest hotels along the railroad. Just as Rush City was reaching its development peak in 1895, a devastating fire destroyed the Grant House.

Not one to take setbacks lying down, Grant rebuilt the hotel in the same location. This time, the hotel was constructed of pretty red brick with walls measuring 16" thick. The L-shaped building had balconies on the north and west sides, a full front porch with balustraded balcony, and was heated by a steam boiler system. The new Grant House opened in 1896 and featured 20 hotel rooms for guests. 

As the city's growth leveled off during the twentieth century, the Grant House had become a noted local landmark. The community embraced the hotel and it became a gathering and meeting place for locals and visitors. Traveling salespeople would set up sample rooms in the hotel where they could sell their goods before moving on to the next town. 

Four months after the new hotel opened, Grant sold it to A.M. Challeen who operated it for eight years. Since then, there have been several owners who have lovingly maintained the hotel and restaurant. The two most recent owners conducted extensive renovations to the building. 

The Grant House is one of the few buildings from this period that remains virtually unaltered and operating under its original function--not to mention its original name--in the state. Because of its historical significance, the Grant House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. Sadly, the current owner can no longer run the business. As of September 2019, the Grant House is for sale (MLS# 5232936) and in need of new owners to write a new chapter in the history of the hotel.

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