Then & Now: The Sherman Hotel

Then & Now: The Sherman Hotel

Then And Now Cover

Then – A Social Hub of the Hub City

In 1881, a family came to Aberdeen named Ringrose. They were amongst the very first people here and they immediately established a hotel on the corner of Third Avenue and Main Street. They called it the Sherman House, and it was a multi-story wood building that quickly became the gathering spot for travelers, clubs, parties, events, and weddings. As most do, the building burned in 1906, leaving the corner bare. General James Ringrose, the patriarch of the family, refused multiple offers for the prime vacant lots in our downtown. After a year, he built this massive building as the Sherman Hotel. Ringrose descendants operated it until it closed in 1969. One of the more famous establishments inside was the swanky Zebra Bar on the main level. Descendants of the Ringroses are still in the Aberdeen Community. In fact, one of James’ sisters, Margaret Ringrose McHugh, married Isaac Lincoln, who had substantial impact on the development of Northern, and whose farm is still inhabited by family.

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Now – The Sherman Name Lives On

Although there’s absolutely no connection to the Ringrose family or the Sherman Hotel, in 1981 the City built this subsidized seven-story apartment building and dubbed it the Sherman Apartments, presumably to pay homage to the name that dominated this corner since Aberdeen began. But there is an odd history between these two pictures. In 1969, a daughter of James Ringrose sold the hotel and lot to a corporation that comprised downtown business owners who demolished all of the upper floors. They built a parking deck on top of the first floor remains of the Sherman and the adjoining Harbor Hotel. The ramp was accessed on Lincoln Street. The Zebra Lounge remained in the main level space, and Ben Franklin was in there too. Unfortunately, the ramp was not stable and was condemned and bulldozed along with what was left of the hotel in 1977. A few years later, the Aberdeen Housing and Redevelopment Commission would build the Sherman Apartments on the corner.

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Screen Shot 2024 02 06 At 11.06.15 PmWho is Sherman?

No one seems to know why the Ringroses chose the Sherman name. I have hunch, however. In the forming days of Aberdeen, many folks that settled here from the east brought ideas and names with them. At the time, there was a famous hotel in Chicago called the Sherman House that opened in 1837. Did James Ringrose appropriate the name? They were from Wisconsin. I think this could be true because in a 1969 article about the hotel closing, it mentioned that the Aberdeen Sherman asked permission from the Chicago Sherman to name their bar the Zebra Lounge, directly after the Zebra Lounge in the Chicago Sherman House. So there was a connection. Oddly enough, in the early 1960s the Chicago Sherman placed ads in Aberdeen’s newspapers promoting their “World Famous Hotel.” //