During the last decades of the 1800’s Jordan was sometimes referred to as “Nicolinville.” At this time Frank Nicolin and his sons, Henry, Frank Jr., John and Josie, dominated the affairs of Jordan. Their holdings included the Nicolin Mill, the Nicolin Opera House, the Mammoth Store (general merchandise), Shields & Nicolin Insurance Company, the California Wine House Saloon, a bowling alley, a brick yard, a dwelling drilling enterprise, a stone quarry and building contracting. The Nicolins were also active in local politics. Both Frank Sr. and Henry served as Mayor of Jordan, and Frank and his sons held positions with the Fire Department, Town Council, public school board, local bands, and the Catholic Church. Frank Sr. donated $1,650 for the altar of St. John the Baptist’s Catholic Church built in 1889.
In 1888, during the hype of a later abandoned coal discovery, Frank Nicolin was building a mansion on Shakopee Street, later renamed Broadway Street. In June of that year, the Jordan Independent newspaper reported “the foundation for Frank Nicolin’s beautiful new mansion is about completed, and the carpenters are at work. Mr. Ulrici, the architect of the building, came from St. Paul to look over the building. If you don’t think Frank is going to have the finest residence ever erected in Scott County, then you’re no judge.” On October 1, 1888 the Nicolins moved into their new home. “In the evening they were serenaded by the band. The party was invited into the magnificent sitting room and royally treated for a few hours. The entire building has been furnished new and elegantly from garret to parlor. It is truly a magnificent dwelling costing almost, if not, $15,000.”
Following the Nicolin era, the mansion became the Kaiserhof Hotel, a “Well-Known Hostelry.” In 1917, the Jordan Independent reported “The Kaiserhof hotel, run and conducted by Mrs. Kaiser, is a recent addition to the town, and is a neat, clean, up-to-date and excellent hotel. The meals are on the home plan. The traveling man especially enjoys a place that is homelike and attractive. Mrs. Kaiser has spared no pains to make this new hotel one of the best in the state and to present to guests all the requirements necessary for comfort and convenience. Sunday dinners for auto parties will receive special attention and will be served at popular prices.”
The mansion next became the Mertz Hotel, owned by Ben and Ida Mertz, from the 1920’s through the 1970’s. During this era, the original steeple on the turret was destroyed in a storm and rebuilt with a shorter roof as seen today, and the porch was replaced with a stucco porch.
It was then purchased as a private residence by Gail Andersen, another Jordan Mayor, and noted historian and author of the two volume local history books “Jordan, Minnesota; a Newspaper Looks at a Town.” During this time, she was also responsible for nominating the Jordan Historic District, including the Nicolin Mansion, to the National Register of Historic Places. Gail has preserved several of Jordan’s historic buildings from destruction, including the Jordan Brewery and Mary (Nicolin) Leonard’s Victorian home.
In 1994, then owner Kevin Breeggemann renovated and restored the mansion, including the front porch, and opened it as the Nicolin Inn Bed and Breakfast operated by his uncle and aunt, Lee and Pat Kness. At that time the rooms were named for towns along the Rhine River in Germany: Bremerhaven, Dusseldorf, Munchen, Wiesbaden, and Bonn. Later the Nicolin Inn was operated by Deborah Wiss, offering five rooms named Mr. Nicolin’s Room, Gail’s Room, The Traveler’s Room, Daughter’s Room, and The Boys’ Room.
In 2001, the mansion was again a private residence for owners Troy and Laura Chamberlin. During their ownership, the home was further renovated, and following a lighting strike, was updated with more of today’s modern conveniences. The Chamberlins moved on to create Chateau St. Croix Winery & Vineyard, where we hope they will produce Nicolin Mansion’s very own vintage.
In June 2003, Kevin and Terri Knox purchased the Nicolin Mansion and began renovating to again open it as a bed and breakfast. Their efforts, and those of the previous generations of owners, are now available for you to enjoy.