On Christmas Lake

The old home that became the Glen Morris Inn on Christmas Lake was built in the late 1800’s for Manitoba Railroad civil engineer, Charles J. Morris. The original two story residence was described in Diamond’s Tourist newspaper as, “one of the most beautiful estates in the area.” Morris owned 1000 acres on Christmas Lake and 2000 acres on Lake Minnetonka’s St. Alban’s Bay. After he died in 1906, his kids, added rooms, built 15 little cottages on the property and ran the place as the Glen Morris Inn. The cottages were fully equipped with electric lights, telephones, private baths, hot and cold running water, kitchenettes and electric ranges. The Radisson Hotel Company bought the place just as the 1920’s started roaring. The proprietor of the Radisson Hotel in Minneapolis, Edna Kruse, and her cousin Belle Bazell remodeled and expanded the main building with a dining room for 250 guests, a large veranda and 40 rooms. The Radisson Inn hosted Saturday evening dances and Sunday dinners and became was popular host for business functions.

In 1934, the inn was sold New York entrepreneur, Lou Cohn. The guy loved to party so he immediately added a liquor license, gambling casino, slot machines, dice tables and roulette. The neighbors hated it, but that didn’t have to put up with the fast crowd for very long.Just before the inn was to open for the 1936. season, 200 employees from the Maurice Rothchild Company packed the place and carried on until about 2 AM. Later that morning, May 3rd, 1936, a housekeeper woke up and smelled smoke. She used sheets and blankets tied together to get down from her 3rd floor room and ran to the caretakers house. The Excelsior Fire Department was called out, but the main building could not be saved and before the morning was over only the chimneys remained. All the cottages were saved and at least four are still there.

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