East Side

Winter Haven Hotel

"The Winter Haven Hotel was used during the 1950's as a location for the Queen judging of the Winter Haven Carnival. It was located on the corner of Fifth Street and First Avenue. When Highway 10 was rerouted it was converted into apartments."

History of Sartell, Minnesota Lumber, Paper, Valves and Progress A Century of Progress Welcoming a Century of Promise page 154

Winter Haven Hotel

Small Town Motel

Sorell's Motel, Sartell 1962-1970

Jan Sorell

"We lived on beans and peanut butter in the winter, when business was slow and steak in the summer, when it wasn't"

"In 1961, Dale and I spent Labor Day weekend with friends who were anxious to share the news that they had just purchased a nursing home in South Dakota. We were happy and excited for them- AND- inspired. Dale and I talked about our (his) dream of owning a operating a Ma & Pa type motel.

When we returned home from that Labor Day weekend, we phoned a real estate company in St. Paul that specialized in hotels and motels. After meeting, with their rep and discussing what we were looking for, he was confident that he could find a place we could afford. Fairly soon, he presented us with information about the Winter Haven Motel in Sartell and took us to see it. We were interested. A phone call to the Minnesota Motel Association provided us with the formula to determine a fair asking price. Price was not based on the building itself, but on a formula which begins with annual income. They also advised us to make sure that the highway was not going to be moved.

Dale and I were told by the Minnesota regional highway department in Brainerd that "at this time there was no plan on the books to move Highway 10 from its current location in Sartell." Everything fell into place, and we made a second visit to Sartell and decided to become owners of the Winter Haven Motel on Highway 10 in Sartell. We were introduced to Don Gilman who owned the V Bar next door to the motel. The two businesses shared a lawn mower, garbage service and snow plowing. Don and his wife Arlene, in addition to being the first people we met in Sartell and our business neighbors, became good friends.

Until all this came up we had not heard of Sartell. When I told my friend Jeanette about our purchase, she excitedly told me of the train trip that her church youth group in Richfield made to the Winter Haven celebration each year. She told of a huge hill where the tobogganed, a skating rink and many fun activities sponsored by St. Francis Xavier Church.

We had no experience, no training, and no mentor, on how to run a motel business when we moved into the motel on January 1, 1962, but we were young and ambitious and hard workers. Dale and I started doing all the cleaning ourselves. Because Dale had been in the military, he knew how to make a bed with hospital corners and with blankets so tight that a quarter would bounce off them. The motel had been built shortly after WWII and the quality of materials and original workmanship left something to be desired. Now 20 years later it needed a lot of work. Dale tore bathroom walls down to the studs and replaced them with Marlite and installed ceramic-tile on the floors and shower walls. One of my earlier recollections of cleaning motel rooms was finding a lot of large beetle-like but flat bugs in the rooms. I was just sick until I learned they were harmless box elder bugs. We hired an exterminator and got rid of them right away.

The motel had 11 units, 4 doubles (with 2 double beds), 5 singles (1 double bed) and 2 two-room kitchenettes. In those days we had two TV sets on carts and if a renter requested a TV, for an extra fee we would wheel one into their room. Our living quarters consisted of a bedroom, kitchen, living room and and office/supply room. All rooms were 12' by 14'. Winter trade was slow, so we had time to perfect our bed-making and toilet-cleaning techniques. The slow business meant that the income was minimal, and we were eager to increase business. By spring we were ready for the anticipated tourist season.

We had lived in the motel for a very short time when we discovered that it was common knowledge in Sartell that Highway 10 would be moved. The timeline was not known so we proceeded with all our energy, enthusiasm and hard work to make our new business successful.

We established a nighttime routine. I went to bed around 10:00 and he stayed up and dressed until midnight to rent to after-hour guests. When the night bell would ring after midnight, I would check-in our guests.

As the tourist season began, things turned around and did wonders for our finances. We were full almost every night and tourists had such interesting stories to tell.

When Aunt Carrie heard that we bought the motel she commented that it was a good thing because it was on Highway 10 and the World's Fair in Seattle would bring us a lot of business. We laughed at that-what a hoot! Much to our surprise, she was right. Many of our tourists were from the Chicago area. It was a nice day's drive, for those heading across the country on Highway 10 to Seattle. This was before Interstate 94. Dale and I would stand in the courtyard and watch the heavy traffic moving north on weekends. We learned not to go into town on weekends unless it was an absolute necessity, making a left turn out of our driveway was almost impossible.

We had a rather long-term guest rent our #10 kitchenette, the largest and nicest one we had. Mike, along with his wife and young daughter, said they would be staying about a month. They were well dressed and drove a beautiful navy-blue Lincoln Continental. There were no phones in the rooms, only a phone booth in front of the office where Mike made a lot of calls. We assumed that he was in some kind of business. They were nice people, and we were happy to have them long-term.

One Saturday morning two men, father and son, came in looking for a place to stay. Each had a wife and two kids, so they took double rooms. A short time later a guy came in looking for a kitchenette. We were on a roll-this early in the day and already 4 rooms were rented. After they all got settled there was a surprise reunion. The two new men were related to Mike. What a celebration-I was thrilled-this reunion happened in my house. More people came to rent rooms and by the end of the day we had only a couple vacancies. They came in pickup trucks loaded high with stuff and a car or two pulling trailers. They were all ages. They occupied all of the furniture in the courtyard. The young boys went fishing in the river, some walked to the local restaurant and brought back food. We watched them like hawks and every time they exhibited unacceptable behavior, Dale would call them on it, and it was immediately corrected. We began to figure out that they were a tribe of Gypsies. Not sure what we could or should do, fearing they would steal us blind and wreck the place we simply watched and treated them nicely.

The next day a couple of the men came to the office to say they wanted to stay another night. Dale said they could not stay as all rooms were reserved for the night and they had to be out by 1:00. They finally began to pack their truck and trailers and be gone by 2:30. Before they left one of the women asked me to walk through the rooms to show me everything was there. Mattresses had been pulled off box springs to be used as extra beds, lamps and blankets were on the floor, complete disarray but everything accounted for. Later that afternoon Mike and his family moved out, two weeks into his one month stay.

That evening , Darrell Hurd, Benton County Sheriff, stopped in and inquired about our recent guests. He confirmed that they were in fact the Williams Tribe of Gypsies, headquartered somewhere in Texas. A couple years later they came back and asked to rent some rooms again-older and wiser- we happened to be "fully booked" for that evening.

One of our kitchenettes was rented by the newly hired Sartell policeman, Al Johnson, who planned to live there until his house was ready. When Al lived in #9, the police phone was in our kitchen, and I became the police dispatcher. Since Al was the only police office in town, Dale was asked to serve backup when Al needed help. When Al left Sartell, Dale was asked to serve as interim chief of police for nearly a year until Jerry O'Driscoll was hired as permanent Chief of Police for Sartell.

We owned the Winter Haven Motel for eight years, we lived in it for four years and hired managers to live in and operate it for another four. In September of 1966, we moved our growing family to our new home that Dale built for us just a few blocks as the crow flies from the motel.

The years we lived in the motel were exciting, active, and growing years. We lived on beans and peanut butter in the winter when business was slow and steak in the summer when it wasn't. There were always a lot of people around and we enjoyed regular visits from truckers with whom we bult up a steady trade, service and delivery people, and many others. The coffeepot was always on. We met some great people and had some very interesting experiences that gave us delightful stories to tell. Best of all it relocated us from the Twin Cities to Sartell-a wonderful place to raise our family, build our careers and then retire."

Where Rivers Merge Stories from the History of Sartell, Minnesota William Towner Morgan pages 55-58

The Sartell American Legion Post 277.

Located on the south corner of 3rd St and 1st Ave. Earlier establishments on this location include the Mill Inn, the Silver Diamond and the Red Horse.

History of Sartell, Minnesota Lumber, Paper, Valves and Progress A Century of Progress, Welcoming a Century of Promise pg 153

Old Highway 10

"Steve and May Plafcan had a home on the south corner of Sixth Street and First Avenue. They converted their front living room into a confectionary store and café. After prohibition had been repealed they started selling draft beer. Jack Iverson ran the Stork Club from this location. Chauncy Gilman remodeled and built the bar in the shape of a "V" where it got the name V-Bar. Also visible in this photo is the Benton Drive Mini Serv on the left and the Winter Haven Motel on the right."

History of Sartell, Minnesota Lumber, Paper, Valves and Progress A Century of Progress, Welcoming a Century of Promise page156

The Commodore

"The Commodore Club was located on the corner of First Street and First Avenue NE. It was built in 1939 by Bill Bettenberg and Al Belfany. Other owners included Joe Gallus and Bill Stevens. It was a popular night club known to be packed on Saturday nights for food, drinks, and slot machine gambling. In the 1970's it provided disco dancing. This east side icon met its demise on April 30, 1980 when it was razed as part of the St. Regis Paper Company expansion."

History of Sartell, Minnesota Lumber, Paper, Valves and Progress A Century of Progress Welcoming a Century of Promise. page 151

"Pat Brannan owned and operated this full service gas station known as Pat's DX. Claude Kosbab, a previous owner, operated it as Claude's. It was a popular café in conjunction with the station. In 1980 the building was demolished as part of the St. Regis Paper Company expansion"

History of Sartell, Minnesota Lumber, Paper, Valves, and Progress A Century of Progress Welcoming a Century of Promise. page 152

Sartell Train Depot

Sartell Depot

Ad in the St. Cloud Times 12-24-1948