This building has a boatload of friendly spirits, including the original owners
to keep the living company.
Keep an eye on your possessions, ladies.
They may be admired and borrowed for a bit by envious spirits.
“STEP BACK IN TIME AND STAY AN EVENING AT THE HISTORIC THAYER HOTEL.”
This well-built, 1895 historic old West, railroad hotel is a large rectangular, three story turn-of-the-century building, complete with three porches for each of its three floors. It has been painted yellow, with green and purple trim around its beautiful Victorian windows, doors and railings.
Guests take a step back in time when they enter the front door into this Victorian-style hotel, with antiques and decor from the era. They enjoy the modern comforts as well as the vintage atmosphere.
Each guest room is named after an important person in the hotel’s history. These include: Miss Lily’s Room, (a prostitute who haunts the hotel), Gus’s Room, (Augustus Thayer, who built it), Julia Barkley’s Room, (who saved the building), Paul’s Room, (who repaired the water damage), Chef Bob’s Suite (the owner and chef), and Colleen’s Retreat (wife of Bob and co-owner).
The twelve guest rooms, with a full bed, start at $140.00 a night. There are other rooms with queen and king beds throughout the second and third floors. All the rooms have antiques, air conditioning, Wi-Fi, clawfoot tubs or whirlpools, and showers. Tom and I can’t wait to stay there on one of our road trips, getting photos for our website.
Guests enjoy the on-site restaurant where Chef Bob creates wonderful entrees and desserts. The menu has entrees reasonably priced, and the choices are mouth-watering. There is also a bar that offers a variety of beer and wine choices.
Thayer’s Historic Hotel has been some sort of hotel, perhaps a boarding house, a bed and breakfast, and a restaurant throughout its long history: 1895-2011.
The first hotel built on this property was the Charles Hotel, also called the Annandale Hotel by some, in 1888. Just six years later, in 1894, it burned to the ground. In 1895, Albert Augustus Thayer used his own money, and funds provided by the Soo Line Railroad Company, to build a large, wood-framed replacement hotel, to house both travelers and railroad employees. Augustus moved into The Thayer Hotel with his wife Caroline to run it. They loved it!
It had twenty-two small guest rooms that each had room for a bed, and maybe a dresser. The third floor was used by railroad workers/boarders, the second floor by travelers, and the first floor had the common rooms typically found in hotels of the era: Gentleman’s Parlor, Ladies’ Parlor, dining room, kitchen, etc.
The Thayer Hotel was the first building in Annandale to have gas lights, and electricity in 1905.
There was also an extravagant lounge and restaurant for the time. Caroline was well-known for serving a delicious beef and oyster stew for two dollars and fifty cents. This stew was brought in by railroad from the East Coast.
During the gangster era, Al Capone discovered the hotel and rented out the entire third floor for himself and his fellas. He came here when he couldn’t make it to his island hideout on Bungalow Island, on Clearwater Lake.
Thayer Hotel enjoyed a steady business, even through the Depression, World War Two, and the 1950s, until the Soo Railroad line stopped providing passenger trains to and from Annandale during the 1960s. The highway system provided a more convenient way to travel than the trains.
The hotel was then converted into a room and board live-in establishment, that didn’t bring in much to maintain or restore it. Uh oh!
By 1976, it was a vacant, creaky fixer-upper, on the road to having a date with the wrecking ball. The floors were warped and uneven, because parts of the roof had large holes, allowing snow and rain to come inside.
Battle lines were drawn between those folks who wanted to tear it down so Highway 55 could be widened, and those who wanted to preserve it. Leading the charge to save it was Mrs. Julia Barkley who managed to get it listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
After it was saved, Wally Houle, former mayor of Annandale, got together with local investors, one of them being Ed Katz of Katz Hardware, and bought the eyesore for one dollar. Then this group put $550,000 into renovation and restoration projects in the early 1980s.
The twenty-two guest rooms were renovated into twelve rooms, each with a private bathroom and its own historic charm. Because there was no room for a pool on the property, a third floor community sauna was built.
Ownership of the Thayer Hotel switched many times, from the late 1980s to 1993.
Sharon Gammel, a psychic medium, bought the property in 1994, and closed it to the public, after the townspeople objected to her second public event, featuring Chippendales male exotic dancers.
She renamed it Thayer’s Historic Bed and Breakfast, and enjoyed cooking breakfast for her guests. After two water pipe breaks, her insurance claims allowed her to invest 1.3 million dollars into new renovations, including a $200,000 commercial kitchen.
She added her personal touch, in the interior and exterior of this historic building. On the Plains Paranormal website, pictures show Gammel’s authentic, period decor and furnishings when she still owned it. Just by looking at the pictues, some can feel the peaceful, restful atmosphere that was so relaxing for guests.
On the first floor, the common rooms that the guest would find included a game room, a long parlor, a lounge, and a restaurant in the large dining room, where wonderful meals were prepared in an updated kitchen.
The second and third floor offered eleven rooms for the bed and breakfast guests who could look forward to a delicious breakfast in the morning. Besides the restaurant business, and the bed and breakfast establishment, Sharon hosted murder/mystery dinners, tarot card readings and seances and other paranormal events where everyone had a good time.
Unfortunately, in 2011, she was finding it difficult continuing on with her businesses that were becoming too much to handle because of her health issues, so she closed her doors on March 15th, 2011, and passed the Thayer on to another inspiring innkeeper. Sharon died shortly after the sale.
However, this new owner never opened for business, and defaulted. The building wound up on the real estate market for twenty years, stuck in a legal mess (an informed Annandale citizen was our source on this bit of information).
Another reason why it was for sale for so long was the massive water damage throughout the building that happened during its vacant years. Many people looked into buying the property, but were turned off by the expensive bill to fix it.
This explains the neglected outside spaces, which showed the results of the turmoil swirling around it. During the time between owners, Tom and I stopped by to visit Thayer’s Historic Bed and Breakfast on our August Road trip, in 2012. The garden space was a disaster. Being a person who loves to work in the yard, I had to restrain myself from pulling up the weeds growing everywhere.
However, we could still see how lovely it was for the years that other owners and Sharon owned this place, by just walking around the outside. We saw a whirlpool hot tub, places for flower beds that were adorned with little statues to complement several fountains. When two of the fountains were turned on, water flowed in a stream, that ran under a little garden bridge, from one fountain to the other fountain.
In 2021, a man by the name Chef Robert “Bob” Krebsbach, his wife Coleen, and their two kids, saw the possibilities and bought the property, as the legal mess was finally cleared up. They renamed it the Thayer Hotel. The massive water damage was taken care of once more.
He was able to get a liquor and restaurant license, and opened up the restaurant business and bar, raising funds to renovate and restore the bedrooms on the second and third floor. As of 2023, the hotel has opened for guests!
The outside spaces have been cleaned up and beautified. Tom and I can’t wait to stay there in a future trip through Minnesota! The new owners own this lovely building with pride and dedication, in the spirit of Gus and Caroline.
The residing spirits must be thrilled! After all this time, someone has come to run another hotel and restaurant. Although the spirits have had it all to themselves for twenty years, they needed people to make a living while alive, so guests are welcomed back inside.
History of Manifestations
The spirits of home and business owners who have loved their places, and the good times they experienced there while alive, sometimes like to visit the living, remember, and help the people who own the place in the present, perhaps even doing some of the tasks they performed while living/working in the structure.
Kelton House Museum, OH (The spirit of Grace Bird Kelton has been known to look after the staff, check up on their efforts and support them. Better behave on the tours).
Stanley Hotel, OH (The spirit of Freelan Stanley keeps a close eye on the work ethics of staff).
Eldridge Hotel, KS (The spirit of Col. Shalor Eldridge keeps a friendly eye on the staff and guests, and tries to help the staff when he sees a need).
Thayer Hotel, MN (The spirits of Gus and Caroline Thayer still love to be the hosts, and do their best to welcome the living).
Employees who truly loved their jobs in life, sometimes aren’t willing to give up their position, even though they are in spirit form!
Little White House, FL (Apparently, a strong-willed spectral house manager hasn’t retired just yet).
Brumder Mansion, WI (The spirits of two house managers, and employees of the speakeasy, have given themselves new assignments to do for the current owners).
Boca Raton Resort Club, FL (The spirit of a dedicated employee still serves the resort’s guests).
Thayer Hotel, MN (The spirit of the handyman is still on the staff, not letting the fact that he is in spirit form stand in the way!).
Guests or boarders of a hotel often choose to spend their afterlives visiting a place that they loved when alive.
Roosevelt Hotel, CA (The spirits of famous and ordinary guests are still reliving their fond memories and enjoying the pool).
Copper Queen Hotel, AZ (The spirits of former guests who love the place while alive, have decided to spend their afterlives here).
Saint James Hotel, AL (The spirits of past guests, including outlaws, find peace residing in their favorite hotel).
Thayer Hotel, MN (The spirit of the old Sea Captain is still cordial).
(The spirits of three female prostitutes who would come and visit travelers for a session of pleasure up in the rooms still love to visit, and sometimes borrow things from guests).
(Unknown spirits dressed in the attire of an earlier era have been seen going about their business).
Animal spirits have been known to stay around surroundings which were familiar to them in life.
Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast, MA ( The spirit of the maid’s cat who was murdered doesn’t hold grudges and is still friendly).
The Inn at Jerome, AZ (The spirit of the kitty who belonged to the Madam still seeks attention from her and the living).
Morgan House, MA (The spirit of the Morgan dog keeps the male child spirit company).
Thayer Hotel, MN (The spirits of three kitties who once belonged to past owners wander around at will, appearing to guests).
Spirits are more apt to make themselves known around places frequented by people who have the 6th sense gifts that allow connections to develop between the worlds, and who have an appreciation of the opportunities for communication. (Spectral portals can be opened).
LeDuc Mansion, MN (The LeDuc family practiced Spiritualism, opening up the door for spirits to enter).
Villa Montezuma House Museum, CA (A former owner who was a spiritualist composer when living, is insanely happy here, as he freely goes between worlds through the portal he opened while alive).
Hill-Stead House, CT (The mistress of the house, Theodate Pope Riddle, was a paranormal enthusiast and invited mediums to come and lead seances, either out of her love of the paranormal, or because she might have had some unseen company that she wanted to communicate with).
Thayer Hotel, MN (Sharon Gammell, a working psychic medium who had given readings and communicated with spirits for forty-five years, knew the residing spirits and they felt comfortable with her. They were glad that someone could understand them).
General Paranormal Activity
In the rooms, lights turn on and off on request from the guests, when spirits are visiting.
Lights can flicker, as if to say to say hello.
People can hear footsteps travel down a hallway toward them.
Many strange sounds and knocks have been noticed by people that can’t be explained away with logical explanations.
Disembodied voices have been heard.
The Spirits of Gus and Caroline Thayer
Both are friendly presences, and like to visit guests who want to meet them.
Guests of the Thayer Hotel have found apports, such as pennies that Gus leaves them to find, letting them know that he has been in their rooms.
Both Gus and Caroline have appeared in front of guests to welcome them.
Gus’s transparent apparition once appeared at the foot of a couple’s bed, and raised his hat in welcome.
The Spirt of the Handyman
He appears in the work clothes of a carpenter/handyman.
His transparent form has been seen walking around the floors, going about his business, going through his bucket list of things to fix.
The Male Spirit of the old Sea Captain
A sociable sort, he invites contact by making his presence known through the aroma of the sea- fish smell/ tackle box.
He responds to questions asked by the living.
The Spirits of Three Female Prostitutes
These hard working ladies of love who lived elsewhere in town, made house calls, to visit travelers/ locals for sessions of pleasure.
The Thayer was considered a high class joint in their time, as it is today.
They love to visit their old favorite places where they plied their trades in life.
These three female spirits have been seen all over the Thayer Hotel building, especially on each floor’s outside porch in front.
They like to rifle through makeup bags, purses and the suitcases of female guests as they don’t have boundaries when it comes to female items.
They enjoy moving things around the rooms. Keys are a favorite item.
Keys temporarily disappear, or are moved to different locations, stressing out the owner of the keys.
The Three Ghost Kitties
There are two spirits of unknown felines, and the spirit of Cocoa the kitty, who was Sharon Gammel’s cat.
Guests have seen the apparitions of cats going about their business, wandering across halls.
Some have experienced the company of these ghost kitties in the guest rooms.
They don’t seem to know that they are in spirit form.
For many years, personal experiences have been reported. Guests have received pennies from Gus, and experienced both Gus and Caroline, as well as a host of other friendly spirits.
Ghost hunting events have been a lot of fun for participants, and were a very popular feature for Sharon’s bed and breakfast. Being a medium/psychic, Sharon was along on the seek and meet-the-spirits events, and many participants had experiences.
Some low-key paranormal investigations were allowed in.
Plains Paranormal (Check out their report for full details. Listed below are just two of their experiences).
They experienced the cigar smoke, indicating the presence of Gus.
They found and communicated with the spirit of the friendly Sea Captain who was identified by investigators by his customary calling card, the smell of dead fish and his tackle box, indicating that he was willing to communicate. He interacted with investigator, complying to three requests to knock on things.
Most Definitely so.
While published reports from paranormal groups are low key, personal experiences /sightings began soon after Gus and Caroline passed over, and have just increased over the years. Many guests and staff have seen and experienced friendly paranormal activity, converting many skeptics into believers of the paranormal.
60 Elm Street
Annandale, Minnesota 55302
Thayer Hotel can be found in the heart of historic downtown Annandale.
- The Minnesota Guide to Haunted Locations
by Chad Lewis & Terry Fisk
UNEXPLAINED Research Publishing Company, 2005
- http://www.ghostvillage.com/resources/2009/ May 21, 2009-Paradigm Symposium.com
- About.com Bed And Breakfasts
Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr
Visit the memorable… Milwaukee Haunted Hotel
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