Courtesy of the Anuta Research Center
The queen City Hotel, formerly the Dunlap House, was moved to the above location from its original site at the southwest corner of Dunlap Square and Riverside Avenue, the site now occupied by the Best Western Riverfront Inn. The three-story hotel was built in 1867. A convenience store and gasoline station now occupies the former site of the Queen City Hotel. In its heyday, the Dunlap House was the main stopping place for travelers using the north-south corridor on the Wisconsin-Michigan border.
Courtesy of the Anuta Research Center

The queen City Hotel, formerly the Dunlap House, was moved to the above location from its original site at the southwest corner of Dunlap Square and Riverside Avenue, the site now occupied by the Best Western Riverfront Inn. The three-story hotel was built in 1867. A convenience store and gasoline station now occupies the former site of the Queen City Hotel. In its heyday, the Dunlap House was the main stopping place for travelers using the north-south corridor on the Wisconsin-Michigan border.

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Travelers entering Marinette and Menominee during the lumber upsurge in the 1860s and 1870s didn’t have the choice lodging facilities that are available to a much different class of commuter in present-day life. The old wooden two-story hotel, with sleeping accommodations on the upper floor, and a saloon and dining area on the first floor, was the stopping place for the sweaty, tired and hungry excursionist of 19th century times.

Two developing towns on the Menominee River and the shores of Green Bay, boosted by a lumber boom that attracted the attention of job-seekers and business entrepreneurs, needed lodging quarters to support their swelling populations and growing number of visitors. The investors responded.

The most notable of the early hotels on the Marinette side of the river was the Dunlap House, which was built in 1861 on the same spot that later was the landmark Hotel Marinette and on ground now occupied by Best Western Riverfront Inn. W.E. Bagley, a millwright, and man named “Dr. Goff” were the first owners and operators although their ownership was brief.

A three-story building, the Dunlap House, with its ideal location, was the place of comfort for travelers looking for lodging when they moved through the north-south corridor on the early-day stage coaches. The hotel was named for George L. Dunlap who was a Chicago railroad contractor.

Four years after the Dunlap House was constructed, Isaac W. Stephenson and his brother Andrew, together with August C. Brown, acquired the hotel property from the original partners. The new owners proceeded to expand the hotel by enlarging the lobby area and office, built a billiard room and added more sleeping quarters.

The third floor of the structure was utilized as a public hall for shows, concerts, political caucuses, conventions and dances.

Business increased after the railroad touched ground in Marinette in 1871. It didn’t take the smart business owners long to realize they needed more space to lure patrons. They divided up the third floor to provide additional sleeping quarters.

After the Great Peshtigo Fire left its scars in the fall of 1871, the hotel was leased for a time to accommodate the suffering.

Joseph LeRoy Sr. bought out the Stephenson brothers and Mr. Brown the next year (1872) and operated the Dunlap House strictly as a hotel. His son, Joseph Jr., assumed ownership after his father’s death and ran the hotel for the next decade (1881). According to the Marinette Eagle-Star, P.R. Green, father of Col. W.P. Green of the local National Guard unit, arrived in town from Green Bay and worked out a lease deal to operate the hotel. The senior Green later retired from the business and the hotel was leased to a string of other business people.

During its hey day, the Dunlap House was the face of local lodging, conventions, political rallies and other uses. Some notable personalities signed the hotel register during its 25-plus years of serving the public. Some of the guests included Robert T. Lincoln, Samuel J. Tilden, Jay Gould who was well-known in the fledgling railroad industry, General Phil Sheridan who led troops in the Civil War, governors from Michigan and Wisconsin, U.S. congressmen and U.S. senators.

While the historic Dunlap House had been the No. 1 stopping place for businessmen visiting the community during the logging boom, Marinette had grown from town government to become a chartered city (1879). The city was lacking for a hotel to satisfy a growing population and the tastes of businessmen coming here to build their portfolios.

Three years into the final decade of the 19th century, a group of citizens created the Marinette Hotel Company and established a $100,000 investment fund to buy property for the purpose of erecting a modern hotel. The year was 1893 and the fund was a substantial figure for the age. Investors decided the location of the Dunlap House was an ideal piece of land to build a new hotel at the edge of a bridge connecting Marinette and Menominee. Their savvy business intellect have proven them to be right for more than a century.

The Dunlap House property included the hotel and an adjacent residence owned by Joseph LeRoy, who at one time was one of the hotel owners. The transaction was headed by J. Murray Andrew. His first act was to move the three-story hotel across Dunlap Square to property which today occupies a convenience sotre and gas station. Moving houses and retail buildings by rugged teams of horses was a common practice years ago.

The Dunlap House was extensively remodeled. Lynn White and his unidentified brother leased the hotel and renamed it “Queen City Hotel.” It also went by the name of “White’s Hotel and Cafe.” The waypost for the town/city since 1867 had a couple of other owners, including the Charles Cook family of Menominee, until it was sold to the Standard Oil Company. Meanwhile, the LeRoy dwelling was moved to a lot on Stephenson Street.

Hotel Marinette was completed in the summer of 1895 and opened for business Aug. 8, 1895. Lant Wood, who operated a hotel in Ripon, Wis., owned the newly constructed local hotel.

The hotel was considered to be a plush caravansary and its reputation was spread far and wide by the traveling public. Area patrons enjoyed the 75-cent Sunday dinners in the smartly decorated dining room. Dana’s Orchestra, prime musicians of the times, played during the dinners, adding sparkle to the cozy setting.

Wood ran Hotel Marinette until his retirement in 1906. The history of the famous hotel has been covered in this space in previous columns.