WABASHA, Minn. — Wabasha’s most historic attraction will soon be open again — and under unexpected circumstances.
The Anderson House, a hotel and restaurant built 150 years ago, has been bought by Brian and Rachel Yenter, a couple that owns two other local businesses.
The sale is expected to close this month. Terms have not been disclosed.
The Yenters plan to divide the bottom floor of the Anderson House into a museum and retail space, while keeping the upstairs running as a hotel. There won’t be a restaurant — the overhead would be unmanageable, Rachel Yenter said.
The couple also plans to turn the former owners’ residence on the property into an aquarium, with tanks featuring Mississippi River wildlife on display for visitors.
The Yenters currently own Eagles on the River property management and the Flour Mill Restaurant and Shoppe. Rachel Yenter said that the couple is less interested in profit margins and more interested in adding another attraction to Wabasha’s downtown to help revitalize the city.
“Our main goal is to make traffic, not money,” she said. “Once we make traffic, the money will come.”
Rooms in the Anderson House are expected to be available by reservation as early as Jan. 1. Yenter said the 23 rooms were functional when the hotel was closed in 2009 due to lack of business, so little work needs to be done.
The museum, which will feature displays on the entrepreneurs of Wabasha’s past, is tentatively scheduled to open in March.
The downstairs will also feature a meeting room for up to 70 people.
The move came as a surprise to many in the city after Rebound Hospitality, a division of Rebound Enterprises of Northfield, Minn., announced plans to revitalize the business earlier this year.
The city agreed to pitch in $400,000 of the estimated $1.75 million renovation cost.
Chris Christopherson, the vice president of First State Bank of Wabasha, said the bank, when asked to choose between Rebound and the Yenters, chose the couple.
“We’re extremely excited,” he said. “The bank did what we believed was best for our customers and our community.”