I had the opportunity recently to stay at the Hotel Chequamegon (Sheh-wa-meh-gone) in the northern Wisconsin town of Ashland. I’d driven by the hotel many times on Highway 2, and always thought it looked like an interesting place to stay. I was happy to have this chance.
From the outside, the building and its white mansion-like expanse is reminiscent of the grand hotels of the past. In fact, it’s patterned after the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island in Lake Huron. Inside, it has a whiff of the fictional Overlook Hotel from “The Shining,” but without the requisite creepiness.
Although it looks like it’s been on the site forever, the hotel is young. It opened in 1986 only about a half-block away from the original hotel. According to a helpful historical fact sheet provided to me by the desk clerk, the original hotel was built in 1877 by the Wisconsin Central Railroad when Ashland was a transportation hub for lumbering, quarrying, and mining.
The original hotel met its demise by fire on New Year’s Day in 1958. To build the current hotel, wood salvaged from the nearby ore docks was used. Although many of the Victorian antiques look like they came from the original hotel, those were burned, except for the lobby clock, which sits in the Ashland Museum. Apparently it was a “thing” in the past to save lobby clocks from burning hotels. The antiques were either donated or gathered from far-flung places with the help of eBay.
My quiet room had tall ceilings and a view through equally tall windows, which looked out on the Lake Superior bay that gives the hotel its name. The word “Chequamegon” is an Ojibwa term that means “spit of land.” There used to be a narrow spit visible from the hotel, but it was eroded by wave action in the 1800s.
The basement level is home to Molly Cooper’s Bar and Grill. It was closed in the morning when I was snooping around, but looked like it would be a fun place to eat, with views of the lake.
Although there are rumors the hotel is haunted, I had no notable experiences in my first-floor room, other than a bathroom door that closed unexpectedly. Alas, the floor was just crooked. No spooks.
4 thoughts on “Echoes of the Past: A Sneak Peek Into the Hotel Chequamegon”
Looks really like a quaint place sans creepiness haha! The concierge area looks antiquated and so does the chair! Great share! Glad you stopped and stayed as a guest there. Lovely read.
Thank you, Garfield!
What an interesting place to stay! It does look very old. I am glad someone was able to grab the clock as it is a symbol of another time and easy to grab. Good post!
Thank you, Jo Nell. It’s kind of sad that a tradition of saving lobby clocks developed around burning hotels. I’m glad they saved the clocks, but it’s too bad that so many hotels burned that it became a tradition. But I supposed that’s what you get with wood heat and wooden hotels.