The Brown Hotel, the Riverside Inn, the Sherburne House, these are just a few hotels once operating in Sherburne County. A hotel often overlooked, yet important to the history of Sherburne County is the Blanchett Hotel of Elk River. Although the hotel served only a short time in Elk River, the forward thinking owner set high expectations for competitors and future area hotels.
Moses C. Blanchett, born in St. George, Illinois in 1863, moved to Minnesota in 1883, and began mastering the hotel business. In 1901 he took over the Merchants Hotel and renamed it the Blanchett Hotel. Immediately he improved the inn and built a reputation of forward thinking and luxury for his guests.
Newspaper reports suggest Moses Blanchett enjoyed immediate success. Regarded as a wealthy, Elk River business owner, the newspapers reported he owned the second automobile in Sherburne County. The first was owned by transportation commissioner Charles Babcock.
Part of his strategy to enhance his wealth, Blanchett developed plans to expand and increase his hotel ownership. In 1903 construction on the Hotel Blanchett in Zimmerman began. The new hotel was opened and managed by Moses and his brother George Blanchett.
Although he attained some success in Elk River, Moses chose to challenge himself in different surroundings. In February 1910, he announced the sale of the Blanchett Hotel for $30,000. Apparently the sale was never finalized. Property taxes into the mid-1910s list ownership of the hotel as Blanchett Investment Co. The same company owned the property in Zimmerman.
The fire of 1917 destroyed the Elk River Blanchett Hotel. Shortly after the fire, Moses Blanchett became manager of the Angus Hotel in St. Paul. He worked at the Angus Hotel for 19 years. He died in 1937, still managing the Angus Hotel.
In the 16 years the Blanchett Hotel entertained guests in Elk River, Moses Blanchett and his family excelled in providing a high level of hospitality in Elk River. The Sherburne County Star News called the Blanchett “one of the best public hostelries in the country.”
Photo from the Sherburne History Center collections: 1990.201.601