Marshfield, March 1898: The birth of Hotel Blodgett
By Kris Leonhardt
As Charles E. Blodgett stood in the first floor of the hotel he had just purchased, he saw chaos. A flurry of activity was taking place before his eyes that March day. New flooring and wallpaper sat waiting for installation while workers applied another coat of fresh paint.
When he raised his eyes to look up at the elegant steel ceiling, his heart filled with pride. His vision was slowly coming to fruition. All that he had dreamed of was developing right before his eyes. He had come so far since he first left home at the age of 16.
Blodgett was born in Grant County, Wisconsin. While still a teen, Blodgett left home to work in the country’s Black Hills region. Working for several military officials, Blodgett made a profitable living before returning to Wisconsin.
Upon his return, he joined his brother in a Stevens Point grocery business before forming a separate partnership in Wisconsin Rapids selling lumber supplies. Business interests would lead him to other towns and cities until Blodgett learned of the Tremont House.
The Tremont House, located in a small, young town in central Wisconsin, held a lot of promise. The three-story hotel sat at the hub of several railroads traveling in every direction. The 51-by-106 foot building itself was not more than 10 years old, constructed following a fire that had destroyed much of the town.
Since then, the recently christened city of Marshfield had exploded. Industry was growing and developing everywhere.
Blodgett saw the promise the building possessed, and in January of 1898, it became his. He had plans to make the hotel into one of the finest in the state of Wisconsin. While he purchased the building for $20,000, he began work on $10,000 worth of improvements to give the hotel all of the amenities that money could buy.
The hotel was raised one story, and a veranda with an iron railing was constructed that spanned the entire building. A canopy was added to the entrance with iron pillars along with two glass panel doors at the front with plate glass windows on either side.
The entire basement was gutted and converted into a laundry area and sample rooms, which freed up more room on the upper floors. As reconstruction gave the upper floors a fresh feel and an air of class, new furniture filled the entire hotel.
Blodgett reopened the facility as Hotel Blodgett, and business boomed. Salesmen, lumber buyers, and travelers from around the country sought out a room at the well-known hotel on their trips to the city as well as layovers between St. Paul and Chicago.
Blodgett continued a successful business at the location for approximately 30 years.