One of the most important buildings in an early Nebraska town was the hotel. It helped attract new settlers and housed not only travelers but residents who lived at the hotel and took their meals there. Accommodations at these early hotels or boarding houses were often spartan. Milton L. Trester complained that during a June 1869 stay at the Pioneer House in Lincoln, “I almost found it necessary to lock my door and lash myself to the bedstead to keep the bugs from carrying me away.”
Eventually hotels served as important meeting places for social and political gatherings. Lincoln’s Lindell Hotel, built in 1886 by pioneer Lincoln physician A. L. Hoover, eventually enjoyed the distinction of being the political headquarters for Lancaster County and for much of the rest of the state. The hotel attracted paying guests whose names are still familiar. William Jennings Bryan made his last major hometown speech from a balcony at the Lindell. Carry Nation was another famous visitor when she came to Lincoln on her temperance crusades. The Lindell reportedly operated without a bar for years, a novelty in pioneer Lincoln, so it became a headquarters for temperance organizations.
There was some talk in 1966 of restoring the Lindell to its 1880s opulence, when costly carpets covered the floors, elegant furniture occupied the rooms, and the building’s outstanding feature was its plumbing. The Lindell was the scene of glittering Nebraska Centennial festivities in 1967. However, it had largely outlived its usefulness and in September 1968 the old hotel, then called the Lindell Palace, was demolished to make room for a bank and office building. Learn more about the Lindell and the final disposition of its furnishings in a Timeline column on the Nebraska State Historical Society website. — Patricia C. Gaster, Assistant Editor for Research and Publications