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Hotel, Baers Bros. buildings to see

Every building holds a story -- some are just older than others.

Just a couple of the buildings around Becker County worth the story include the Hotel Shoreham and the Baer Brother's Building in Frazee.

The Hotel Shoreham, built in 1910, is celebrating 100 years this summer.

The Shoreham area was developed by John K. West, and the hotel was a popular destination for guests coming by boat. Those boat and train schedules still hang on the Hotel wall, in fact. Brothers Rick and Tom Lynch have owned and operated the Hotel Shoreham since 1974.

Over the 100 years, the Hotel has served as hotel, restaurant, drive-in restaurant with carhops, resort and apartment building. The walls were built one-foot thick of concrete, and the archways give a unique, almost Spanish, look to the outside of the building. The archways were enclosed with windows around 1940. Aside from a few new roofs over the years, Lynch said he hasn't had to have any work done on the building.

There have been other changes over the years outside the Hotel Shoreham, throughout the Shoreham community. Now, the Hotel and the Shoreham Chapel are the only two original buildings left in what was once one of the most popular destinations in the area.

Back in its heyday, Shoreham was a bustling area, known for its lakes and resorts. At the end of Washington Avenue, on Detroit Lake, people would board steamer Lady of the Lakes and travel through Dunton Locks, on the way to Shoreham.

From about 1890-the 1930s, it started with a train ride into Detroit, followed by a buggy ride to the dock of Detroit Lake. From the dock, the Lady of the Lakes -- followed by several other steamers over the years -- would take passengers through the lake system, and an hour later, they would be set to enjoy a weekend at Shoreham. Cost for the trip from Detroit to Shoreham was 25 cents. In the early 1900s, there were 250 cottages and several small hotels in the Shoreham area.

The Hotel Shoreham is full of historic pictures from both Lynch's mother's collection and from the Becker County Historical Museum. The pizza shop across the patio was once a guesthouse, but in 1987, the Lynches added their pizza shop out there.

In Frazee, the Baer Bros. Hall was a place for entertainment. It was used for balls and dances, and there were even stage lights, making it thought to be the best arranged opera house between Fargo and Minneapolis.

Baer Bros. Opera House formally opened September 1899, presenting "Damon and Pythias" and "The Merchant of Venice." Tickets were 25, 35 and 50 cents. Baer Bros. also owned and operated a store.

The Baer brothers, William and Gottlieb, constructed the building in 1898 for $17,000. They owned it until 1911, when they sold it to Frank Kiene for $20,000. Known as the Kiene Building until 1920, it was then sold to Wilson Hubbard of Iowa. In 1925, it was foreclosed on and sold on a sheriff's auction to City Commercial Bank of Iowa. After changing hands several times, it finally landed with John Anderson in 1932. It went through several other owners until Jerry Arenson purchased it in 1969.

The main floor businesses included Baer Bros. General Store, Kiene's Store, Bishop's Grocery Store, Rosenbloom Clothing, Lee Anderson Clothing, Roy Harvey Dry Goods, Hoffman Hardware, Olson Cafe, Skyview Cafe, Jim's Hardware & Variety, Star Drug, Hareware & Variety, Teiken Drug & Variety, Skyview Theater, Frazee Bar and now George & Becky's on the Corner.

The second floor, though, was for social functions. It was a popular place for dances, card parties and the Frazee Opera House. After the public school burned down in 1906, classes were held upstairs for two years. Graduations and basketball games were also held there. There were also dentist and doctor offices, the telephone company and an attorney located upstairs. It was converted to apartments around 35-plus years ago.