Since we last checked in with Stillwater’s Water Street Inn, the historic hotel has big news to share.
Owners Chuck and Judy Dougherty, who have run the hotel since 2003, say they’re ready to take a step back from the business. In their stead, St. Paul-based company Morrissey Hospitality will gradually take over management of the hotel operations.
“The decision to partner with Morrissey Hospitality has been in the works for many years,” Chuck Dougherty said in a recent press release. “This new partnership will give us the time we’re seeking to continue servicing the community, which has always been a top priority for us,” he adds.
Morrissey Hospitality’s Sam Rose will join as the new general manager of Water Street Inn. According to the company, his initial focus will be on increasing the catering capacity for the hotel and refining the guest experience in the hotel’s two restaurants—Charlie’s Restaurant and Papa’s Rooftop—alongside Chuck and his daughter Erin Dougherty, who will stay on as the restaurant manager.
Water Street Inn’s history starts in 1890 as The Lumber Exchange Building. The building, which originally housed wealthy lumber merchants, was remarkable not just for its heating and electricity but also for its elevator, one of the few operating in the state at the time.
Over its more than 100-year history on the St. Croix River, The Lumber Exchange Building has been an important hub in the city. The original occupants, which included a post office, barber shop and saloon, gradually transitioned to offices for law, insurance and real estate firms. In 1994, three innkeepers partnered with the Minnesota Historical Society and National Trust to restore the building to its original state, laying the groundwork for the Water Street Inn we know today.
Chuck and his family played their own part in adding to the grandeur of the façade in 2019 when they rebuilt the historic clock tower. “It will give a prominence to the Inn that it just doesn’t have today,” Chuck said at the time. “It will draw people in from all over downtown.” These renovations also increased hotel capacity and added the rooftop deck where Papa’s Rooftop operates now.
“We are honored that Chuck and Judy have placed their trust in us, marking a new chapter for both Water Street and Morrissey as we expand our reach into Stillwater,” says Richard Dobransky, president of Morrissey Hospitality in a press release. “We aim to provide the owners with peace of mind that their day-to-day operations are in expert hands.”