One of the most important buildings in an early Nebraska town was the hotel. It helped attract new settlers and housed not only travelers but residents who lived at the hotel and took their meals there. Accommodations at these early hotels or boarding houses were often spartan.
Milton L. Trester complained that during a June 1869 stay at the Pioneer House in Lincoln, “I almost found it necessary to lock my door and lash myself to the bedstead to keep the bugs from carrying me away.”
Eventually hotels served as important meeting places for social and political gatherings. Lincoln’s Lindell Hotel, built in 1886 by pioneer Lincoln physician A. L. Hoover, eventually enjoyed the distinction of being the political headquarters for Lancaster County and for much of the rest of the state.
The hotel attracted paying guests, including some who were famous. William Jennings Bryan made his last major hometown speech from a balcony at the Lindell. Carry Nation was another famous visitor when she came to Lincoln on her temperance crusades. The Lindell reportedly operated without a bar for years, a novelty in pioneer Lincoln, so it became a headquarters for temperance organizations.
There was some talk in 1966 of restoring the Lindell to its 1880s opulence, when costly carpets covered the floors, elegant furniture occupied the rooms, and the building’s outstanding feature was its plumbing. The Lindell was the scene of glittering Nebraska Centennial festivities in 1967.
However, the Lindell had largely outlived its usefulness and in September 1968 was demolished to make room for a twenty-story bank and office building. A crowd of onlookers saw a three-thousand-pound steel ball hurled against the walls by a giant crane before they came crashing down. An auction was held prior to the demolition to dispose of “glassware, hall trees, potted plants, paintings and an old rolltop desk,” among many other items. More than four hundred bidders competed for souvenirs from what was once Lincoln’s premier hotel.
— Patricia C. Gaster, Assistant Editor for Research and Publications