Hotel Nelson

Timeline for 245 Main Street: from The Journal Times, May 10, 2007

1837 – The land purchase is the first deed ever recorded in Racine County;

1837 – First Racine schoolhouse built on the property;

1857 – Alexander McClurg buys the property. McClurg is the son-in-law of Racine founder Gilbert Knapp;

1857-58 – The building is erected as the first fireproof structure in Wisconsin. Its Italianate, cast-iron facade is brought by ship via the Great Lakes from Buffalo, N.Y.

The building houses the offices of the county’s first railroad, the Racine, Janesville & Mississippi Line, as well as the City Bank of Racine;

1882 – The concrete building is the only structure to survive the Great Fire of 1882;

Racine Advocate, 1881

Racine Advocate, 1881

1870s and 1880s – It houses the Racine Advocate newspaper and law offices;

1890 – Bought by former Racine mayor M.M. Secor.;

1893 – Secor has the interior rebuilt and opens the Midwest’s first Turkish bathhouse, the Secor Medical Baths. The baths remained in continual use until 1941;

1897 – Racine’s first public library opens on the first floor, with 3,439 books;

1900 – The first Racine County Municipal Court is established on the second floor;

1904 – The library is moved to Main and Seventh streets, now home to the Racine Heritage Museum.

Bijou Theater

Bijou Theater

The Bijou Theater is started at 245 Main St. to show vaudeville acts and movies such as “The Great Train Robbery”;

1913-21 – The Racine Continuation and Industrial School, Wisconsin’s first vocational school, conducts classes;

1918 – Peter Nelson opens the Nelson Restaurant. He later bought the building;

1924 – Nelson remodels and adds hotel accommodations;

1956 – The building changes hands but continues to be run as Nelson Hotel and Restaurant;

1975 – Pat and Terry Ludeman buy it and open 245 Main Place, a restaurant;

1977 – Listed on the National Register of Historic Places;

1987 – Bought and then sold to present owner, Johnson Redevelopment Corp., the real estate arm of SC Johnson;

1985 – The remodeled Main Place opens with Robert W. Baird as first tenant;

2007 – Dunn Bros. Coffee opens on remodeled first floor.

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Advocate Building, 1883

Advocate Building, 1883

2 thoughts on “Hotel Nelson

  1. Yes, Beth, I knew you when you were a child and I definitely remember your parents, Pat and Terry Ludeman. I think we met through the Southside Redevelopment Corp. when Larry Hunt was director. Give them my regards. I would love to read whatever they would share about the old hotel. Perhaps they could validate my memory of the bowling alley under Main St. I remember the Turkish baths very well.

    Thanks, Todd, for researching and finding so many interesting articles on the Nelson Hotel.

    • My parents were friends of Rev. and Mrs. Hunt when I was a young child. I remember the family, wonderful people.

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