Brainerd has had about 25 hotels in it's hundred years of history but most of them have now disappeared with many of them being victims of fire.
The Headquarters hotel built by the Northern Pacific railroad in 1871, was Brainerd's first hotel. It was built on the east end of the site now occupied by the Midtown Shopping Center.
The headquarters hotel was the first to burn and was succeeded on that site by the Arlington hotel which was built by R.R. Wise, who eventually was builder of both the Ransford Hotel and the Brainerd hotel in the Iron Exchange Building. The Arlington was destroyed by fire in 1904.
Another famous hotel of the early days was the Villard Hotel which was built on the northwest corner of Sixth and Main (Washington) street, but it also burned. Other hotels which were lost in fires included the Globe Hotel on Fifth and Front Street and the Ideal hotel at Seventh and Front.
Of the major hotels built during the first half century of the city's life, only the Ransford remains. It was built by R.R. Wise in 1905 after his Arlington had been destroyed by fire. The Ransford has survived at least three fires which swept buildings on nearby lots.
Not after the Ransford was constructed, fire destroyed most of the buildings west of the building, but the Ransford was not damaged. In 1909, fire destroyed several buildings on the future site of the Iron Exchange building but without damage to the Ransford and again last year, the Iron Exchange building itself with its new Brainerd Hotel burned, but the Ransford escaped.
In the last quarter of the city's history, the trend in Brainerd as in other cities has been away from hotels to motels with convenient to highways. In the early days of the city, travelers came by railroad. Consequently most of the hotels were build in the vicinity of the passenger depot.
But as automobiles supplanted the railroad, hotels began to yield to cabin camps and then to motels. In fact, Brainerd with its tourist industry and its central location for salesman, has become a motel center with hundreds of accommodations being available throughout the year.
Latest of the new motels is Holiday Inn which was constructed only last year.