Then and Now: The Inns of Red WingFor years, the Candlelight Inn, Golden Lantern Inn, Moondance Inn, Pratt-Taber Inn and the Round Barn Farm Bed and Breakfast and Bread have been home-away-from-homes for Red Wing’s yearly tourists. But are these charming inns just a soft bed to sleep in?
By: Briana Moynihan, The Republican Eagle
For years, the Candlelight Inn, Golden Lantern Inn, Moondance Inn, Pratt-Taber Inn and the Round Barn Farm Bed and Breakfast and Bread have been home-away-from-homes for Red Wing’s yearly tourists. But are these charming inns just a soft bed to sleep in?
If you looked into these bed-and-breakfast inns’ histories, you find just how much these homes are part of Red Wing’s history.
One inn’s history begins with a past president of the Red Wing Shoe Co., Jesse R. Sweasy. Sweasy decided to build his estate in 1932, involving himself in the house’s construction for two years.
“I think we would call him a micro-manager,” said Sioux Christensen, current innkeeper of the Golden Lantern. “He was involved in every aspect of building the house.”
Since the house’s completion in 1934, three generations of the Sweasy family have lived in the home, including current Red Wing Shoe co-owner and President Bill Sweasy.
“It was built so well and it’s really in pristine shape,” Christensen said.
The family kept their humble home until selling it in 1992. Soon thereafter, the house was turned into a B&B and named the Golden Lantern Inn.
Few renovations had to be made to get the inn up and running. The first owners of the Golden Lantern preserved all the original woodwork and remaining functional windows. Five different types wood were used in the house, and Sweasy used two different types of wood on each door to match the wood interior in every room.
The first innkeepers even kept the speaking tube leading from the kitchen to the maid chamber, now called Leta’s Room.
Perhaps the most unique aspect of this inn is the time period in which it was built.
Christensen noted it was built during the Great Depression as well as Prohibition.
Secret compartments remain in the library where the family kept treasures.
On the other side of Red Wing’s historic district lies the Moondance Inn, owned by Mike Waulk and Chris Brown Mahoney. Dr. A.B. Hawley, one of Red Wing’s first doctors, built the house in 1874. The second owner used the house as the meeting place of the Red Wing Commercial Club.
But even with renovations done in 1905, the inn needed a massive remodeling before Moondance could open. The couple bought it in 1998 and welcomed guests in January of 2000. Renovations included tearing out all the ceilings on the top floor, redoing its plumbing and starting over on all of the bathrooms and kitchen, they said.
But despite all the changes, the house’s thick foundation is intact. With 18-inch stone walls quarried from Barn Bluff and wood beams constructed from butternut and oak wood, this home also has all original floors.
As you enter the inn, you can see a gold-dusted painted ceiling with hand-stenciled details from 1874. The Italianate-style home has its 107-year-old light fixtures as well.
The Candlelight Inn, owned by Zig and Lynette Gudrais, is a Victorian building. The residence was built in 1877 by Red Wing Stoneware Co. manager Horace Rich. The inn was established in 1989, and since then the Candlelight Inn has had three owners.
The Candlelight was ready for business within two months. The house’s wood interior has its original finishing; no previous owner ever painted it. Hanging in the library are original photos of the house, taken because of its rare Quezal chandeliers.
Built in 1876, the Pratt-Taber Inn gets its name for the original owners — a man and his son-in-law. After being sold and turned into apartments, the house fell into neglect in the 1950s. But through new owners in the 1980s, the Pratt-Taber was turned into an inn.
Current owner Debra Bylander bought the home in 2005. Although the residence had been an inn for several years, Bylander said she still had to make major fixes. She ripped up layers of floor, finding newspaper and tar underneath. Other renovations included redoing most of the ceilings, rebuilding the porches, replacing part of the roof and adding a gourmet kitchen.
During remodeling, contractors found an old suitcase in the attic full of pictures, documents and letters that belonged to the Pratt-Taber family. Amongst these treasures was a letter that Mr. Pratt had written to automobile mogul Henry Ford.
Round Barn Farm Bed and Breakfast and Bread
Nestled between Red Wing and Wacouta, the Round Barn Farm Bed and Breakfast and Bread is unique from the city’s other inns.
Although the farm’s property had been around since the Civil War, owners Robin and Elaine Kleffman built the inn’s residence in 2001.
The Kleffmans’ inspiration for the house came from two pages in a copy of Homestead Architecture published in 1861 they found at the Eagan Public Library. Architect Samuel Sloan designed that house around the 1860s.
“We wanted a house that suited the age of the farm,” said Elaine Kleffman. Reclaimed lumber from the Duluth Timber Co. was used to give the home the old-age feel.
Located in the back of the inn, the farm’s smokehouse built during the Civil War remains.
The Kleffmans built a hearth oven so they could bake fresh bread for guests from May to October on the weekends, hence the “bread” in the inn’s name.
But sitting on the farm’s 35 acres is the inn’s most historical feature, the round barn.
Built in 1914, the barn measures 60 feet in height and 60 feet in diameter. Round barns were built around 1880-1920 in the Midwest, and about 20 or 30 remain.
That makes Round Barn Farm’s barn the premiere round barn of Minnesota, according to the Goodhue Historical Society.
The barn was originally on a dairy farm that held 20 cows, all milked by hand. The bottom floor of the two-story barn held the cows, while the upper hayloft could hold 40 tons of hay.
The Kleffmans made few renovations — although critical — to the barn thanks to previous farm owner Earl Grifith, a beekeeper that remodeled the barn in 1958. For 30 years the Grifith family used the barn to process their honey.
“We really credit Earl for saving this building at its critical point,” said Elaine. “We were lucky to find such a property in good condition that was worth the renovations.”
Renovations the Kleffmans made include straightening the barn, replacing the old posts, strengthening the barn with new lumber, and replacing loose mortar.
After the round barn was remodeled in 2003, the property was ready to start booking weddings and other events. Since then the Round Barn Farm has played host to about 75 events.
“You can have a square dance in a round barn,” remarked Elaine with a laugh.
After several years of owning the Round Barn Farm, the Kleffmans still get visitors of the farm’s past.
“Every family that has owned this farm since 1914 has been back,” Elaine said. Some of the farm’s older guests remember buying honey from the Grifith family.
Whether you’re looking to stay in a piece of history, or just want a comfy bed to sleep in, the inns of Red Wing provide home-