firm active: 1907-1921

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Welcome Inn Hotel, project
Purcell and Elmslie
Rhinelander, Wisconsin   1915

Text by William Gray Purcell

Parabiographies entry for Welcome Inn

Commission Date (in Parabiographies): January 2, 1915

George Hermann, President of this company, was a local contractor who had built our First National Bank there three years before. Had I given as much careful study to the matter of selling our services as was given to preparing a design for the hotel, the building might be making commercial travelers happy today. A lot of attention was given to making an attractive set of drawings. I had so much business detail, so much running about, that work over the drawing board was like a vacation. Hotels everywhere, no matter how large and expensive, were then still run on the old "mine host" tradition. As a business, its methods were far behind the new merchandising ideas of other lines of business. Statler, who revolutionized hotel management, had only recently appeared on the horizon in Buffalo.

The arrangement of our plans for this little hotel building was based on a pure merchandising program for selling to the public what they really wanted and had shown they wanted, but could not buy in any hotel. We tried to dramatize the hotel idea as your home away from home", and anticipated much that was developed by hotel managers during the next twenty years, particularly in reorganizing the sale of food. We segregated the coffee shop from the main dining room which, for obvious reasons, had become a losing factor in the business. Where hotel managers had been driving their patrons out of the building to restaurants and lunch counters, we planned the food dispensaries so that they would be equally available to the people on the street and those who were stopping in the hotel. The design is a clean affair, was planned for future expansion from two to four or six stories. But neither contractor nor owner was ready for the new business ideas crystallized in this plan, and simply slumped back into the terrible "rooms over stores" type of hotel, with the lobby worked into one of the store units, with no real planning of anything.


   Collection: William Gray Purcell Papers, Northwest Architectural Archives, University of Minnesota [AR:B4d1.9]
research courtesy mark hammons