This photo of Hotel Sacred Heart was taken in or close to 1914, shortly after the hotel was built. The hotel building is now over 100 years old, is in fairly good condition and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Contributed photo
The Hotel Sacred Heart building has been a fixture in Sacred Heart for more than 100 years. On May 23, the building was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Many in Sacred Heart hope this new designation will help the community come together and breathe life into this historic building so it can be enjoyed not only for its current residents, but for residents of Sacred Heart another 100 years down the road.
History of Hotel Sacred Heart
The town of Sacred Heart had been without a hotel from 1907 to 1913, when Carl Anderson, in anticipation of a new hotel at the site, bought the vacant lot by paying the back taxes. A group of local businessmen organized a stock company in 1912 for the purpose of building a hotel for Sacred Heart. A couple of years later, the new spacious hotel opened its doors.
L.F. Reddicliffe, of Brooten, a man with 20 years of experience in the hotel business, was the first to lease the new hotel.
The hotel boasted a modern, fire proof, 25-room brick hotel known as the “best little hotel between the Twin Cities and Aberdeen, S.D., along the Milwaukee Railway,” as it was described in a newspaper.
Reddicliffe left after about a year and several new owners and managers came and went.
In 1921, Grace Grinnell bought the hotel and took over as cook, a position she held from 1913 to 1930 and again in 1947 when she returned to manage the dining room. The hotel’s food had a good reputation in the area. One visitor referred to it as the “Radisson of Renville County” in the local newspaper.
According to Sonja Thune, Sacred Heart Area Museum curator, it wasn’t uncommon for small towns to have hotels, but Hotel Sacred Heart was more notable than most, and some people would travel the better part of the day to visit the hotel.
“The unique thing about it now is it is still standing while most others are not,” said Thune. “And the exterior still looks nearly the same as it did in its prime.”
In 1947, Mr. and Mrs. Albert Stenborg partnered with Mary Romness to purchase the hotel. They combined their last names and came up with the new name for the hotel… Hotel Romborg. They remodeled the interior and restored the veranda to its original appearance (it had been altered by one of the previous owners). Many gala dinner parties and special events were held during this time in the hotel’s history.
“We had our oldest daughter’s baptism reception there,” said Verne Enestvedt, of Sacred Heart. “And our senior banquet was held there when I was in high school. I believe they was held there for many years.”
Interior shot of the Hotel Romborg, as it was called for many years. Contributed photo
Romness left the partnership in 1952, but the name Hotel Romborg stayed the remainder of its life. The dining room remained open until 1955.
In December 1977, hotel owner, Fannie Stenborg closed the doors of the hotel with good intentions to reopen. There were five permanent residents in the building, and each found homes elsewhere. The next year, the building was sold to John and Kay Loberg, of Minneapolis, who converted the hotel into apartments. It has sat empty for several years now. In 2014, the Sacred Heart Area Historical Society (SHAHS) purchased the building to preserve it for future generations.
Marilyn Agre, a member of the SHAHS board, is part of the group working to keep the building protected and historically preserved.
“So far, we have raised $24,000 to put a new roof on the hotel, and we were able to pay that off in less than a year,” said Agre. “We also replaced some skirting boards on the exterior.”
Agre said the interior needs a lot of work but the exterior is in remarkably good condition for its age.
The SHAHS is applying for a reuse feasibility study on Hotel Sacred Heart. They want to know what options they may have in terms of turning the historic building into something useful for the community. What is feasible? How much will it cost?
“When the time comes, the community will be involved in the process,” said Thune.
The recent listing on the National Register of Historic Places is a real boost for Hotel Sacred Heart, said Thune, because it allows the SHAHS more access to federal and state grants.
Besides the feasibility study, SHAHS is currently looking for those who have memories of the Hotel Sacred Heart. If you remember staying there or eating there, please contact the SHAHS at 320-765-8868 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Their mailing address is P.O. Box 462, Sacred Heart, MN 56285.