Carl Berg opened the Farmers and Travelers Hotel in Sleepy Eye in 1874. It was a simple, two level, woodframe building with a saloon on the first floor. To keep up with competition from two other hotels in town, Berg decided to erect a new, three-story solid brick hotel in 1899. The new Berg Hotel would have 40 large bedrooms, bathrooms on every floor, ladies’ parlor, dining room, bar room, and a barbershop. Berg advertised the hotel as the only first class hotel in the city. On October 16, 1922, about a week after the New York Yankees lost the World Series, Babe Ruth and Bob Meusel visited town on a barnstorming tour, their only stop in Minnesota. The players stopped at the Berg Hotel to meet a large crowd hoping for a glimpse of Babe. Later, the crowd moved down to the ball field to watch the men hit a few homers out of the park.

The Berg family sold the hotel in 1950, since then several people have owned the building. In 2002, the building was donated to the Sleepy Eye Area Foundation. Determined to save the local landmark by making the property “more attractive for new investors”, they gutted the building’s interior and demolished the rear wing. The original columned portico that covered the entrance to the hotel was removed with the highway was widened. It sat vacant for several years before it was purchased by Catherine Haala in 2015. It wasn’t clear when I visited the site earlier this year how the building is being used.