Created By: Coleman Memorial Museum
95 Main St W. - Dickey Hotel / Nodak Hotel & Cafe Site
Places to room were utterly essential to Ellendale’s early years. The northwest corner of Ellendale’s main intersection is now vacant, but it was the site of two hotels until 2014.
The first hotel erected on this lot was Mrs. Mary Bishop’s second attempt at a hotel during Ellendale’s pioneer days. Mrs. Bishop’s first hotel was three miles north of here—at the spot where the Milwaukee line stopped in 1882. It soon became clear that the town would be here and not there. Mrs. Bishop quickly changed her plans and built the Central Hotel (seen in the far right of the oldest antique photo) on this location. It was soon sold to George White, who renamed it the White House. The building was soon moved to the north part of town.
In 1912 the Dickey Hotel, a fine modern structure, was built on the lot and would stand for just over 100 years. It was a three-story building, 50 x 90 feet, and built with brick from Hebron, ND. Locals boasted that it was “the best hotel in the state” and it was opened with a gala so grand that special rail cars were chartered to bring in guests from a distance.
The new hotel had numerous proprietors in its many decades of service. In 1918 it was owned by Wanda L. Nisse, and advertised itself as “The Waldorf Hotel.” It had “European” style and amenities like “Electric lighted, Steam Heated, Hot and Cold Water in Every Room” (see picture). The Hotel had its own electrical generation plant, and maintained a high quality restaurant and cafe in the bottom floor.
In 1930, Ray Dillingham took over the restaurant, refurbished it, and made it the new home of “Ray’s Cafe.” Dillingham later purchased the entire building, and resold it to George Russells and Vince Robinsons, who renemed it “The Ellendale Hotel.” In 1956 the building changed hands again: Walt and Lillian Schmierer purchased the place and renamed it “Walt’s Hotel and Café” and operated it nearly a decade. In the mid-1960s Leonard and Ruth Hagen bought and renovated the building, and renamed it the NoDak Hotel and Cafe.
The building and café subsequently changed hands several times. The most recent café proprietor was Peggy Gilbert (present owner of the Fireside), who operated the restaurant from 1998 to 2005. For nearly ten years the building was available to a buyer, but no one was found who could invest the resources needed to rehabilitate the structure. Ultimately, it succumbed to necessity and was demolished in late 2014.
The large blue Nodak sign that hung on the east side of the hotel for nearly five decades has been preserved, along with various mementos. That sign, which had once been affixed to the original NoDak café on the south side of Main Street, is a featured exhibit in the Coleman Memorial Museum.
Ken Schmierer shares personal experiences from his childhood, when he lived in the hotel.
This point of interest is part of the tour: Ellendale - Tour of the Core City