Fremont County, Iowa

The Hamburg House
by Ruth Lauman

View from the Attic ~ A Weekly Series
Fremont County Historical Society
Week of January 10, 2011

This attic view chronicles another of the fine hotels that are part of the county's past. The Hamburg House, located on the northeast corner of Main and E Streets, was built by A. J. Edwards about 1867. It was a four-story building with two balconies, and said to be a finer hotel than Omaha, Council Bluffs or St. Joseph could boast. People would come out on the balcony and sit there and watch the citizens ride up and down the street in their buggies for their evening outing. Traveling men planned to spend their Sundays at the Hamburg House and those who enjoyed a good game of cards gathered there.

The dining room was on the first floor and was also used for dancing. Charles Cowles' dance orchestra furnished the music. The basement was fitted as a saloon and was presided over by Colonel Bill Davis, later county sheriff, and state representative.

John Field reported in the December 2, 1976 issue of The Hamburg Reporter about a printed "Bill of Fare" he found in the archives. A Thanksgiving supper at the Hamburg House for the evening of Wednesday, November 28, 1877 consisted of five courses, all in the grand French manner. The spelling is that of the day and time, and surely harkens back to a happier, more leisurely pace, when good food was given it due. The soup course was oyster soup, followed by a fish course consisting of Pike a la Genoise. The roast course consisted of turkey with cranberry sauce, boned turkey, beef or mutton.

Diners could choose from the following for the main course: Mallard Ducks a la Francais, Chicken a la Lyonnaise, Chicken a la Marengo, Chicken with Oysters, Salmon Sallad, Chicken Sallad, Leg of Mutton a la Spinasse, Baked Ham garnished with jelly, or Pressed Corn Beef. Dessert was equally elaborate, consisting of fruit cake, gold cake, silver cake, snow flake cake, jelly rolls, lady fingers, or sponge cake. For an after dessert goody one could have vanilla ice cream (before refrigeration as we know it), oranges (did they come overland from California or Florida?), mixed candies, nuts, and raisins. Hamburg House and all those fine meals went up in smoke on July 26 or 27, 1881.

The next building to be erected on the site was the three-story Julien, a beautiful brick hotel. Sam Goldberg ran a clothing store on the first floor, and in the basement was a pool hall and barber shop. This building was completely destroyed by fire on the night of February 19, 1897. A year or two later the present Julien block was constructed by H. R. Grape.

Frank Hill ran a drug store here for a few years in the south side of the building, followed by the Bartlett & Doyle Drug Store and by the Julien Drug Store. Connor's moved into the north room in 1905, from the present Stoner Drug Company location, across the street, and later occupied the entire ground floor fronting on Main Street. At that time the Julien Hotel occupied the south office and the entire second floor. The Bartlett Grain Company office was located in this building just east of the hotel office.

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Page updated on October 26, 2020 by Karyn Techau