You are here
The Hubbell House is one of the oldest surviving hotel buildings and stagecoach rest stops in Minnesota. John Hubbell opened a small log building as an inn and saloon in Mantorville in 1854, the same year the city was founded. Located on the Zumbro River within the rolling hills and rich farmland of Dodge County, Mantorville thrived as a stagecoach stop because of its central location in the early southern Minnesota network of roads. Connecting east to Red Wing on the Mississippi River, the Mantorville and Red Wing Stage Road was one of Minnesota's most heavily used routes for travelers, immigrants, and the delivery of mail.
In 1856, Hubbell replaced his hotel with the current three-story building, a vernacular expression of the late Federal style. Flat stone lintels are set over the rows of transom windows on the western and southern facades. Early photography indicates that in the late nineteenth century these facades were wrapped in porches on the first two floors. The structure is built of local limestone with quarried rough rectangular pieces set in a random ashlar pattern. Many of the buildings in Mantorville’s twelve-block downtown, including the neoclassical Dodge County Courthouse (1871, C. Townsend Mix), the state’s oldest working courthouse, were built with this “Mantorville limestone”—a stone that was soft when quarried but grew stronger when exposed to the elements.
As a key stop for stagecoaches, the Hubbell House accommodated travelers including Ulysses S. Grant in 1876 and newspaper editor and politician Horace Greeley. In a second period of significance beginning in the 1940s, the Hubbell House became a popular fine dining restaurant and tourist destination. In 1946, Paul Pappas purchased the then somewhat rundown building to create a restaurant and lounge. With its location just fifteen miles west of Rochester, home to the renowned Mayo Clinic, the Hubbell House began to attract a new generation of travelers. Along with visitors to the Mayo Clinic, the rise of car tourism brought patrons from throughout the state. During the next thirty years, the Hubbell House attracted celebrities including Mickey Mantle, Roy Rogers, and President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Rehabilitation of the Hubbell House in the 1940s foreshadowed interest in townwide preservation planning. Before the widespread rise of the preservation movement in the late 1960s, Mantorville’s residents were already aware that, for such a small Minnesota town, their community had unusual mid-nineteenth-century historic resources. In 1963, the Mantorville Restoration Association was founded as one of the first preservation advocacy groups in the state. Now part of the Mantorville Historic District, the Hubbell House is still in use as a restaurant.
Hybben, Robert, et al., “Overland Staging Industry in Minnesota, 1849 – 1880,” Minnesota. National Register of Historic Places Multiple Property Documentation Form, 1991. National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C.
Larsen, Arthur J. “Roads and the Settlement of Minnesota.” Minnesota History21 (September 1940): 225-244.
Nelson, Charles W., “Mantorville Historic District,” Dodge County, Minnesota. National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination Form, 1974. National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C.
If SAH Archipedia has been useful to you, please consider supporting it.
SAH Archipedia tells the story of the United States through its buildings, landscapes, and cities. This freely available resource empowers the public with authoritative knowledge that deepens their understanding and appreciation of the built environment. But the Society of Architectural Historians, which created SAH Archipedia with University of Virginia Press, needs your support to maintain the high-caliber research, writing, photography, cartography, editing, design, and programming that make SAH Archipedia a trusted online resource available to all who value the history of place, heritage tourism, and learning.