The Water Street Inn is being updated in a series of renovations—increasing its current capacity, rebuilding the historic clock tower and transforming the roof into a rooftop deck where people can eat, drink and enjoy the views of the St. Croix River.
The Water Street Inn is a historic building constructed in 1890, however it was not always the hotel it is today. It was built by the Union Depot & Transfer Company, which was also responsible for constructing Stillwater’s train depot, Union Station. It was originally called The Lumber Exchange Building and was used to house wealthy lumber merchants. The building was extraordinary because it not only had heating and electricity, but it also had an elevator, which was rare at the time in the state of Minnesota.
“The Lumber Exchange Building continued to be an important building in Stillwater for more than 100 years,” Chuck Dougherty, the current owner of the Water Street Inn, says.
The original building also contained a post office, a barbershop, some stores and a saloon, which is where the current pub is located now. In the early 1900s the building became home to law and insurance firms as well as real estate office spaces and the Chamber of Commerce.
After much time had passed, in 1994, three innkeepers wanted to restore the building to its original state and showcase the historical architecture, so they partnered with the Minnesota Historical Society and National Trust to accomplish this goal. They decided to turn it into a hotel that could be enjoyed by visitors and locals. The finished hotel first opened its doors in November 1995 and the current owner Chuck Dougherty purchased the hotel in 2003 and began to oversee all of the operations.
A myriad of changes are coming to the hotel, which Dougherty hopes will bring in more guests and make its spaces more accessible and functional.
The first major change is the addition of three full floors, which will increase the number of rooms from 41 to 62. They are also adding a rooftop deck with a kitchen and bar so guests can have dinner and drinks in a new picturesque location.
The current pub and dining areas are going to be reworked as well. The original lobby is going to be used to expand the dining areas and a new lobby will be located on the north side of the hotel. This change allows for a 2,000-square-foot dining area that, like the rooftop bar, will also boast fantastic views of the river.
In Charlie’s Irish pub, you’ll find a combination of American and Irish specialty dishes, such as mac and cheese that combines both an American comfort food with an Irish touch in its special Irish whiskey cheese sauce. But, what really draws people in is the pub’s extensive wine list comprised of 130–150 different bottles of wine.
Dougherty is most excited about rebuilding the 80-foot clocktower. It will be located on the northwest corner of the building where it can be seen from Main Street.
“It will give a prominence to the Inn that it just doesn’t have today. It will draw people in from all over downtown,” Dougherty says.
The hotel renovations are scheduled to be finished in June 2019, just in time for vacationers to enjoy during the summer season.