Anderson House fades into historyMany people know the Anderson House as the “Cat House” in Wabasha, because of the cats the innkeepers rented to their guests who want them. It was also the oldest continuously run hotel in Minnesota — actually, west of the Mississippi — built in 1856 by B. F. Hurd and purchased in 1896 by the Anderson Family.
By: Lynette Gudrais, Contributor, The Republican Eagle
Many people know the Anderson House as the “Cat House” in Wabasha, because of the cats the innkeepers rented to their guests who want them. It was also the oldest continuously run hotel in Minnesota — actually, west of the Mississippi — built in 1856 by B. F. Hurd and purchased in 1896 by the Anderson Family.
But no longer.
The Andersons held the inn for four generations, but when the last one left the hotel was run down. A nephew of the family came in and bought the hotel, but was not successful.
The hotel then went into the hands of Teresa and Michael Smith in 2004 and they spruced it up, called it a bed-and-breakfast inn and began serving some of the breads, pastries and main dishes for which Grandma Anderson and her progeny had been famous.
In 1948, Jeanne Hall and Belle Anderson Ebner, daughter and granddaughter of Grandma Anderson, wrote a cookbook called “500 Recipes by Request from Mother Anderson’s Famous Dutch Kitchens.” The cookbook was followed by “500 More Recipes by Request.”
In the prologue of the second book, Hall writes:
“Ten years ago we joyously put together ‘Five Hundred Recipes By Request from Grandma Anderson’s Dutch Kitchens’ and happily watched it travel from one end of the United States to the other. While it wasn’t intended that way, the book served as the most lucrative piece of advertising ever put out by the Hotel. It brought new guests by the hundreds.
“There is something about the old, quiet air of charm and friendliness at the Anderson Hotel that makes personal friends out of customers. We are so obviously a family hotel in a crossroads country town fortunately located in the Hiawatha Valley which is, and always will be, one of the most beautiful locations in the world.”
In later years the Anderson House acquired two more claims to fame.
One of the inn’s cats starred in a 1997 children’s book, “Blumpoe The Grumpoe Meets Arnold The Cat” by Howie Schneider in which a curmudgeonly guest gets a life lesson from the cat who keeps him company. Additionally, there were three “ghost buster” investigations that resulted in benign spirits, if any.