A king’s feast

Published 9:32 am Saturday, May 5, 2018

An invitation from Geordie Hormel was printed bearing King’s Wood Hotel letterhead in the Austin Daily Herald on Tuesday, July 15, 1958. It read:

“Dear Friends –

I wish I could extend a personal invitation to all the people who would like to attend opening night at King’s Wood – but the only way I know to reach all of you is through this ad.

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The gates of the magnificent new King’s Wood Hotel will open to the public for the first time at 5:00 p.m., Thursday, July 17th, and will be open every day thereafter.


Sincerely, Geordie Hormel”

Sixty years ago, King’s Wood opened in the renovated childhood home of Geordie Hormel. A new invitation is now issued to all from Gerard Academy and the Hormel Historic Home to celebrate the historical relevance of that magical establishment.

We offer you an evening of elegance and fine dining on Saturday, May 19 starting at 6 p.m. No formal dress required. Through the history, charm and ambiance of the Hormel Historic Home, guests will experience an exquisite meal and live music reminiscent of Geordie Hormel’s illustrious King’s Wood.

Both of our entities rely on the generosity of the public to continue our respective missions of serving the community in valuable ways. This event will serve as a fundraiser that through photos, music, and food will take you on a journey back to 1958 when Geordie endeavored to create a place of escape for those from near and far to enjoy.

An Austin Daily Herald article from July 18, 1953, detailed the opening of King’s Wood.

“King’s Wood Hotel dining room joined the Hubbell House and Lowell Inn on the list of Minnesota’s fine dining centers with its formal opening Thursday night. One hundred patrons enjoyed fine food and excellent service while host Geordie Hormel moved from table to table, chatting with the first-nighters. For Austin it was an occasion.”

The author of the column described the menu selections including Russian caviar, frog legs, pate’ and French pastries ranging in price from $2.50 to $5.50. Geordie’s French mother, Germaine, had a great influence on him, and he featured her favorite recipes on the menu. Geordie expressed some concern over how Germaine would initially react to the new enterprise, but said she was pleased and started right in helping to run the place. The opening night festivities attracted guests from Rochester, Albert Lea, Des Moines and the Twin Cities.

Gerard Academy now serves a completely different clientele, but the work they are doing continues to add to the legacy of the home that once served the Jay C. Hormel family and now serves the children of so many others. The shared heritage between the modern day Hormel Historic Home and Gerard perpetuates the values of a family that gave to its community in countless ways. Join us for an evening from the past and learn about our futures.

Tickets to the King’s Wood Dinner event are $35 and can be purchased at the Hormel Historic Home or online at www.hormelhistorichome.org/calendartickets. You can also learn more about the Jay C. Hormel home by attending History Happy Hour on May 14. Details are below.

Viewing of Ken Burns Vietnam War Series

6:30-8 p.m., Monday, May 7

Beyond the Yellow Ribbon is bringing the Travelling Vietnam Wall Memorial to the Mower County Fair Grounds from May 17-20. Join us at the HHH to learn more about the war by watching a portion of the series produced by Ken Burns. Free.

History at Play E, A History for Half Pints event

10:30 a.m. to noon, Saturday, May 12

Enjoy activities and play from the early 1900s. Free.

History Happy Hour:

Austin’s Other Historic Homes

5:30 p.m. social, 6 p.m. presentation, Monday, May 14

Austin’s history was made by many people whose names we see around town or hear about in conversations of the past. In this presentation we will feature information about the Ellis family and their Evergreen Farm. The home of Jay C. and Germaine Hormel, now known as Gerard Academy, will also be featured. Free for members of the HHH, Friends of the Library, or the Mower County Historical Society.