Hotel History

In 1840 the inhabitants, town of Hermann, sold lot number 19 on coveted Wharf Street to John S. Bottermann.  Lots sold for $50 with the exception of Wharf Street lots which sold for $150.  In about 1864 Francis Rippstein obtained the property and sometime between 1864 - 1868 the White House Hotel, the ultimate of hotels in its time, was built.  August C. Leisner, who had managed hotels in the St. Louis area came with Charles E. White to open the White House.  Mr. Leisner left in 1871, but returned in 1873 and took charge of the White House as manager under Charles D. Eitzen, administrator of the Gottlieb-Rippstein estate.  The White House became a landmark enjoying the patronage of many dignitaries including William Jennings Brian.  The White House has some of the original registers that date back to the 1870's.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a partial list of fun dates and events

that took place at the old hotel

1840-

The Beginning”

  John S Botterman buys lot number 19 on coveted Wharf Street for $150.00

1864-

   After the death of her husband, John Bottermans widow assumes ownership  

1864-

“A Vision”

Francis Rippstein  owner of Hermann’s well respected,  United States Hotel, purchases Lot 19, to” expand his thriving hostelry”

1866

“ Resurrection of the Dream”

Francis Rippstein dies suddenly, Gottlieb Rippstein  his son, sets out to start the construction of what would become “ One of the largest and finest hotels found on the line of the Missouri Pacific Railroad”  

1868-1869

“What dreams may come”

 White House Hotel, grandest hotel from Ohio to Denver Colorado , is built. This building, a three story, with a two story wing, boasts a full windowed cupola on the roof, for guests to observe the river. Also a grand balcony, is built, surrounding the building, giving the guests,” a joyous view” of all those wishing to be checked in to “the Grand ole Hotel”  The Hotel would be known, oddly enough, by its brick, two storied privy, located outside with access to the structure from the first, and second stories. Water? A well head, is dug in the basement of the hotel, for 24 hr access to the water for the guests, even during those cold Missouri nights…  

1870 –

“ A new birth”  

 The first live birth is recorded at the hotel, the baby was named “George Fisch.”

Assembled by his loving parents, George and  Elizibeth  Fisch, both German immigrants on there way to Iowa , to start a wagon making business.  What a wonder to be born in a fancy hotel, surrounded by opulence, vice a dirt floored farm house, loaned out for a day, to the birth mother and her spouse along the trail of dreams…  

December 1876

“Two stars collide”

A marriage made in heaven, and the hotel business,

August C. Leisner, Hotel proprietor, marries Wilhelmina Rippstein, widow of the hotels founder, and builder. Hermann’s most celebrated couple, she was 31, he was 33.

Perhaps there real first born, was the fledgling Grand old Hotel…..  

May 1877

“A gathering place, for all People of Means”

The Boston Philharmonic Ladies Cornet Band gave a heartily encored performance.

“The Dining Hall of the White House is admirably adapted for such entertainments and should be used for similar purposes oftener” so stated the local paper, of that year.  

1880-

“Opulent affairs”

A grand masquerade ball was entertained by Mr. A.C. Leisner, on Washington ’s Birthday. “it should be well attended, as the price of attendance is 25 cents.”

This was the norm for the time, when the grand Victorian age was blossoming and people had the money to spend on merry activities…..

 

July 27 1886

“The Fire”

These pictures are of the hotel cupola, which burned in the fire of 1886.

Notice the 14 chimneys! (10 on the wing and 4 on the main portion)

4 pm , Gussie Pfautsch, a local 15 year old working next store to the hotel, lights a candle in the basement of Monnigs store, where he is employed and causes an explosion, resulting in the “1886 Hermann Blaze” which burns the store down, and severely damages the White house.

Damages include the loss of the hotels roof, cupola, and severe damage to the balcony and “surrounding wood-work” It is assumed at this time that the hotels main balcony is burned down,. not to be rebuilt until 2009,  123 years later.  

August 25 1886

“Rebuilding the dream, Victorian style”

“The re-building of the hotel begins, thanks in part to an insurance settlement, of 6,000. for the building, and 1,036.00 for the contents.” Many pieces of furniture which, were “thrown from windows to escape the fire” probably causing more harm than good..

Mr. Gegan, of Washington Mo. To oversee the three month restoration…  

1886-

“Rising from the flames like a Phoenix ”

A.C. Leisner re-opens the hotel after the fire. In some kind of perfect timing, the hotel is rebuilt, in a wonderful fashion, in the now beautiful Victorian age of opulence..

“The hotel rises from the flames like a Phoenix” stated the German paper of 1886…

 

November 20 1886

“The Hotel builds an icon”

 “Today marks the date when all are invited for a grand ball, to be held at the White House Hotel ballroom, for the purpose of fundraising a sum to be donated to the local school, to build a tower and a clock to be installed there”  50 cents a person.

You cannot invest for a better purpose, nor spend an evening more profitably.

400 citizens attend.  

November 20 1886

“Royalty visits”

1896 - William Jennings Bryant stays at the White House Hotel, campaigning for the presidential bid.  He is quoted as saying….”Only the town of Hermann , could have put me in the White House!!!” meaning the White House Hotel..

Hotel accommodations were arranged by E.T. Williams, Democrats of Gasconade County. (A local, Pat Beckers, grandfather)  

Sept. 12 1897

“Another war returns its soldiers”

Several trainloads of soldiers, of the 3rd Regiment Mo. Volunteers stops in Hermann, and is fed at the Hotel. Over 600 officers and men were served, the officers eating in the dining hall of the hotel, the rank and file, being fed outside, sandwiches and coffee, by the ladies of the town.  

1889 October

“A Joyous Sabbath in the Hotels Saloon”

A.C. Leisner re-models the hotels saloon, the “First and Last Stop”  and commissions the new White House Hotel sign to be painted by Mr. Ewald”, a famous painter”

“And is pronounced by everyone who sees the sign, a fine piece of workmanship”

As Hermann Sabbaths were observed to be “joyous Sabbaths”  “The hotel saloon, reopened in grand splendor, on that day, until noon only, making all that attended, feeling themselves perfectly at home”  

1898

“A Victorian Guiding –Light”

An odd new fashion, one that must be tested, is placed in the Hotel, “Electricity”

Several rooms are electrified. The gilded age, is now seen in a whole new light.

Due to the wonderfully available two story privy, plumbing would not be needed or installed in the White House Hotel well into 1913.  Till then, Chamber pots and Pitcher and Bowl sets will suffice ….  

August 1899

“ I do Love a Good Saloon”

“Dramshop saloon license issued to AJ Prudot for hotel bar”

“Mr. Kendrick to run the hotel proper…” thus read the local 1899 paper, announcing the reopening  .. again, of the very profitable local hangout.  

 

1908

“Not The Night IDA Like to Rememba”

 Ida Schewe, after returning from a friend’s wedding reception, departs the hotel after unusual circumstances leaving her trunk filled with belongings, to be discovered in the hotel attic 100 years later. Items included in the trunk, Dresses, her mink fur, mink hand bag, several sets of nice button hook shoes, a dance card for the 1893 Veiled Prophets ball, personal letters and those wonderful hats…. All faithfully stored for the possible return of the missing guest… that never returned.

1909 

“Superman visits the Hotel”

Mr. Oscar Shauumberg, a local here in town, paints all 84 pair of hotel shutters in a record 3 days at 50 cents an hour. This story was relayed to the former Hotel proprietor, Robert Plummer, whose son can’t paint 3 shutters in 84 days…  

1910

Doctors, Ladies, Electricity and Magic”

Dr. Potterf, Kansas City , spends several days catering to the pains and groans of of the community.” So read the local 1910 paper.  Here at the hotel the doctor specializes in electricity and medicine, idlers and curious please stay away” The doctor also advises, that “all positively married ladies must be accompanied by their husbands” Hmm…  

October 1912

“A Change of German Heart”

‘Hotel owner Louis Koch who earlier changed his saloon at the hotel into a soft drink parlor, changes his “temperance emporium” once again, He will reopen in November.” Stated the Paper printed in 1912.  It is assumed then, that ice cream and soda pop do not breed temperance…  

Sept 24 1919

“Love it and Leave it Please”

“Hotel owner, Mr. William H Hull of Fulton sues former manager to have them removed from the hotel premises”  After selling the hotel to his new manager,  the latter manager refused to “give up her room, and sued the owner for damages and back pay, then refused to leave the hotel”  Mr. Hull won.  

October 25 1911

“Out with the Old”

After reading the Sunday’s paper, and not finding any news worth reading, except some French-man, in a flying machine showing off to the ladies, a local worker would take the newspaper, wad it up, and stuff it into flu number two, in the grand ballroom.

Thus capping the flu, and ending an era of wood-fired, potbellied stoves enjoyed for many years. The worker then installed the” new coal fired steam wonder heat” throughout the White House…. Still in use today…  The newspaper?  it was discovered in 2009, and  is displayed in the case to your right, … a time capsule, capturing a moment lost in history.

December 1919

Here is a postcard sent from Bob Flagg in 1919 which shows the waterfront and the hotel lights on.

 

July 1922

“An Old Friend Returns”

William Jennings Bryan returns to Hermann, for Hermann’s first annual Chautauqua day celebration. “a parade of citizens led by the Enterprise military band, escorted Mr. Bryan from the White House hotel to the Grand tent, where the great gathering gave Mr. Bryant quite an ovation”

It was here, on that date that Mr. Bryan, decried the new theory of evolutionism, and , stated.. “an implicit belief in the Bible, and faith in God is essential to the life of any nation”    Seems as true today as it was way back  87 years ago…  

April 15 1935

“War Time .. Saloon Rebuild”

Hotel owner, G.H. Lohse rents the saloon to Mr. Leibach, who redecorates it, with all new fixtures. It was here that the Soldiers, Sailors and Marines, as well as locals would filter in to Hermann, stopping in at the Hotels Saloon for a pint, whilst there Steam engines refueled for the next leg East.  Later, the troops would once again flood the rails, as another “Great War” would start… During that time, One soldier, probably woozy from that pint, would drop a silver quarter under the old bar, where it would drop to the dirt floor beneath… and be discovered 73 years later….  

1934

“ Mysterious Man”

Otto Gula, tenant of the hotel, checks in for an extended stay. He takes a job as a  clerk at the Stone Hill Winery. He is often questioned in reference to his prized picture of Adolf Hitler, he places on the wall of room 26, 3rd floor. Not all that unusual at the time of heightened German nationalism of the 1930s.. It is also rumored that he has a radio, in his room. This fine old gentleman, apparently was also a man of means, which may just explain the local populaces  view of old Otto.

This odd gent, also loves Joe Lewis, in which he plasters the walls of his lonely room with newspaper cutouts….where they remained until 1972. Otto receives postcards from someone in Ohio, nice postcards addressed to him, but with no return name or address.

It has been suggested, that Otto may have secretly purchased the White House Hotel, from the proprietor at the time, around 1940.  

Feb 24 1939

“More Snake Oil”

Dr. Beedle   visits the Hotel for a traveling medicine clinic… so states the local 1939 paper…  

May 1971

“The Longest Yard..”

While visiting Hermann’s Maifest, Robert and Judith Plummer spot the ailing building, called the White House, and have a dream…. And purchase it for 37,500. dollars. That included most of the furnishings, “albeit all white-washed,  white” Judith always wanted her own home, and asked Robert, why a hotel??? The reply,

“Anybody can have a home, how many people can say they have a hotel?”

Mr. and Mrs. Plummer, would start the restoration of the building, saving it from becoming an apartment house. The new proprietors would own the hotel for the longest in the Hotels 141 year history,  A grand 38 year tour… The Plummer’s would retire from the hotel business in 2008, it is rumored they are looking for another Historic Hotel…  

Oct. 1972

“One of Many Prizes”

 A traveling trunk is discovered in the attic, belonging to Ms. Ida Brown… The mystery of the “lost Woman” is re-visited…   

January 1974

“A Capital Flag, fit for a White House”

 At the request of the new proprietors, Robert and Judith  Plummer  The U.S. capital flies a flag over there  building, later to be sent to the White House, for its grand opening. The architect of the US Capital, was ironically, Mr. George M. White.  ( The same name as the first owner of the hotel, Charles White)  

May 2nd 1974

“A Modern Beginning”

  This date marks the grand re-opening of the White House, under Mr. and Mrs Plummer.  The official flag, once flown over the US capital, is flown over the hotel. This is the first time a US flag has been flown over the hotel since a storm blew down the old wooden flag pole, around 1899, some 75 years ago.  This is the same pole, on display in this room.

Here is a list of hotel owners proprietors and managers 1868 - 2008

1840- 1857   John S Botterman buys lot number 19 for 150.00

1857- 1864   John Bottermans widow assumes ownership

1864-            Francis Rippstein purchases property dies in 1866

1866-            Gottlieb Rippstein , son of Francis Rippstein

1868-            Gottlieb Rippstein starts construction on the White House Hotel

1869 - 1870  Charles White manages  the White House hotel

1873-            Charles D Eitzen assumes administrator of Rippsteins estate

1873             AC Leisner manages hotel

1876 –          August C. Leisner / and new wife, Wilhelmina Rippstien-Leisner

1880 -           August C Leisner

1886 -1891 June 29  August C. Leisner

1891-  1896   Mrs. Margareth Rhodius  (leased hotel from Leisner)

1896 - 1899

1899 -           Louis Kendrick/ AJ Prudot  to run the hotel proper

1909- 1913   Louis Koch

1913 - 1919   J.B. Broyles

1919 - 1920   William H Hull ,  Fulton Mo.

            Leased the hotel to Mrs Rosa Remly   (sued) September 1918

            Leased to Oscar Meyer    September 17 1919

1920- 1925       C.A. Maxeiner

1925- 1926       E.J. Geiger

1926- 1928       George R. Swantner

1927 -1928       W. J. Swantner

1935-                G.H. Lohse

                         Leases the saloon to August Leibach

1939 - 1953    Selma Klenk -    

1969 - 1972     Faye G. Lewis    

1972-2008       Robert ,Judith Plummer

 

Who stayed here?  Currently, the signatures of many notables have been discovered in the hotel registers. Here is a PARTIAL list. All signatures will be cross referenced with authentic signatures

Shoeless Joe Jackson (fewer than 7 original signatures in the world)

Baseball- clubs, teams, and individual players.

   1925-   Ty Cobb - George Rieser- W. Gerkin- Pete Nube- Hank Collins- Roger Heilman- Ernst Guba- Joe Kelly- 

 

           J D Rockefeller

           The entire St. Louis Browns ball club 1925

Keep checking back for more identified signatures!!

 

Frequently asked questions..

 Ghosts – murder and mayhem…

 

Q. Are there any Ghosts in the Old Hotel? 

A. Only the Holy Ghost.  

The White House Hotel offered sanctuary and safe haven from the elements for over 141 years.  

During that vast time frame, over 926,370 people stayed in the building. Not all were stable citizens. There were documented stories, based on eye witness accounts of people taking lives, and taking there own.

Here are a few examples,  

1899 

After discovering his sweetheart’s affections lost to another, a gentleman calmly climbed the stairs into the attic, tied in neat order, a noose, in which he proceeded to hang himself on the first support beam of the attic ceiling. Later to be found by Hotel staff.  

1915

After becoming a late pay customer, and refusing to answer his door to room number 10 to answer to the charges, The proprietor tried his master key, to no avail, in an attempt to open the door. Finally, after using a chair to look into the room, the truth was discovered.

A grisly scene of a desperate man, that had apparently drank lye, collapsed on the bed near the wall. Damage to the wall was extensive from the acidic lye used to complete the deed. The room was repaired, cleaned up, aired out, and was back in service in no time.  

192_?

2008 -After preparing the destruction of the 3rd floor bathroom, completed sometime in the 1920s, and checking the condition of the pipes under the bathtub, rags were noticed.

After retrieving the old rags, more and more clothing was pulled out from under the tub.

It was discovered that the clothes, tee shirts, and a men’s shirt had large cut marks, and were entirely soaked in old, dried blood.

The whole scene was cleaned up well, and the evidence disposed quite readily, if it hadn’t been discovered by the repair crew…

 Other questions

Q. What is the load clanking noise heard at night and the sound of an “organ “   playing at midnight?  (guests)

A.  The loud clanking and banging at night, heard by guests since 1915, is the steam pipes, expanding and contracting with the variable temperatures. They can be heard throughout the hotel, and will give you quite a start.

The organ heard playing, at odd hours, from the lobby of the hotel as reported by overnight guests, was in fact, the old organ playing in the lobby of the hotel. It seems, that the owners youngest son of 9, would sneak from his room, down to the lobby at wee hours, and well, attempted to play the organ, thus scaring the guests to death, before he slithered back off to his bedroom…he confessed many years later….  

Q. Ive heard stories that the old doll collection, had dolls that were haunted…and moved!

A.  The famed doll collection belonged to Louise Weber, Judith Plummer’s mother. This collection consisted of over 670 dolls, and was on display for hundreds of bus tours throughout the 1970s to 1980s.  Many bus groups refused to leave the entrance of the doll room, much to the tour guides dismay, until an explanation of the moving dolls was explained. (the dolls moved continuously only to stop moving when the tour guide came to the doorway)

It was all explained away, by a then-12 year old boy, with some string…  

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Q. How many people actually stayed at the White House Hotel since 1868?

A.  (short)  A lot.  

       (long)   From 1868 to 2009, the White House has operated as an Overnight Hotel, Boarding House, part time apartments, and a Bed and Breakfast.  The building has had paying guests enjoying its splendor for almost its entire history.  During these 141 years, or 51,465 days, the hotel has been at 38-70% occupancy.

That means, that approximately   926,370 people stayed at the Old White House,

not including those who stopped by just to eat a meal, from the passing steam boats, or trains.  Almost a million stories,,,,  if only these walls could talk.

 

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