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Lavina hotel, built in 1908, open for tours on Friday

Adams Hotel 1.jpg
Posted at 9:40 PM, Jul 20, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-21 13:51:13-04

LAVINA - The Adams Hotel in Lavina is named after Milwaukee Road Vice President John Quincy Adams.

On Friday, some who want to preserve the hotel will provide an opportunity to see the inside.

The inspiration to keep the building standing comes from its owner, who is related to Ludwig Lehfeldt, who built the hotel in 1908, then sold it to a church in 1922.

It's changed hands a few times until it got back into the ownership of his granddaughter, who now wants to preserve the hotel and carry on his legacy.

Catherine Thayer says her grandfather, known to friends as Louie, was a sheep rancher who built the hotel with help from Milwaukee Railroad Vice President John Q. Adams.

Some online accounts indicate Adams was a distant relative of the sixth president of the United States, John Quincy Adams, and the second president and founding father, John Adams.

As a girl, Thayer would travel from Ryegate to Lavina to visit her grandfather, and she was enamored with the hotel.

"It just was so to me so alluring, and mysterious," Thayer said. "And I was never in it, so I could imagine what it must be like inside. And I never did get in it until 60 years later."

The Adam's previous owner, Raymond Barry, left the hotel to Thayer's family in his will, after turning it into a living museum,

"Even if those items aren't necessarily from that time period or the European paintings, it gives you an idea of the opulence and the grandeur and how the rooms might have been set up," said Heather Peters, who is the event coordinator for the open house.

Peters is part of the Friends of the Historic Adams that is hosting the open house.

"Just imagine people, hot and tired and dusty getting off the train," Peters said. "And just seeing that beautiful white hotel with the grand porch and thinking, oh, I bet there's a cold beverage in there and a hot meal and a bath. And having that opulent room to stay in after a long ride on the train."

There have even been rumors that the hotel is haunted.

A dishwasher in the early 1900s named Manny Dolt died inside and Barry told there he may have seen Manny.

"He said Manny Dolt raised up," Thayer said. "I don't know if there was a bed here but Manny Dolt was in a white t-shirt and then he went through the wall to the lady's parlor. He didn't say anything."

She says the experience frightened Barry.

Thayer doesn't dwell on the past. She's looking to the future of preserving what she calls a family heirloom that is on the National Register of Historic Places.

"There is hope for now that it will become something and can serve the community," Thayer said.

The open house is Friday night from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.