By David R. Schleper
The St. Paul House was built on the southwest corner of Second Avenue and Fuller Street in 1854. For over 110 years, the light post of the St. Paul House was a sign of excellence.
Joseph Thiem opened this as the Railroad Hotel and Saloon. Although trains didn’t come to Shakopee until 1865, it did provide lodging to the river traffic and planned ahead for the inevitable railroad business. And Shakopee could always use a new saloon!
It gained prominence and notoriety as a saloon and hotel, serving both travelers and the local population. The St. Paul House was also notorious for gambling during the 1920s and 1930s.
Over time, ownership of the hotel changed hands including John Ederts, John Krauth, Ed Schmitt, Ben Klayman, and E.B. Rossman. In 1931 it was purchased by Frank Wampach. He opened the St. Paul House Bar in 1934, added a bowling alley in 1939, and undertook a lavish remodel beginning in 1948. Over the next six years the second story was rebuilt, the Redwood Terrace lounge was added in 1952, and the Mardi Gras room opened in 1954.
Those changes, along with the hotel’s 100th anniversary, prompted Wampach to rename his business the “New St. Paul House.” Patrons enjoyed dinner and drinks seven days a week with dancing every night except Sundays. The facility was both popular and the standard of excellence in fine dining. It was recommended as a place to visit in the 1961 edition of the Duncan Hines travel book, “Adventures in Good Eating.”
The menu itself consisted of two pages, and included everything from appetizers and relishes to selective dinners and desserts. Prices varied from 20 cents for coffee, buttermilk, and milk, to $10.75 for charcoal broiled bon fire double sirloin for two. The inside of the back cover was the liquor menu and included various types of whiskeys, scotch, brandies, beers, hot toddys, Collins, rickeys, fizzies, egg nogs, cocktail drinks like daiquiris and manhattans, and fancy drinks like zombies and pink ladies.
Next to the St. Paul House was the Minneapolis House, which became Abeln’s Bar. Old Jack sat on a stool in back, and sold penny candy to kids, giving them a dollar’s worth of candy for a few pennies.
The New St. Paul House was destroyed by a fire in 1965.