William Watkins Smith, a wealthy banker and investor, purchased land in Sleepy Eye in 1896 and started building his home. What is now the W.W. Smith Inn was completed in 1901. During the period the house was under construction, several churches in Sleepy Eye were also being built. Smith took advantage of the many old-world craftsmen assembled in town to work on the churches and enlisted them to provide the stunning wood carving, stained glass and leaded glass work seen in the W.W. Smith Inn.
On the first floor of the Inn is a spacious foyer with fireplace, a parlor that flows into a sitting room with bay window and then into the formal dining room, with its own fireplace and built in china closet. Across the hall is a cozy library with built-in book cases. On the second floor are three bedrooms, including a master suite with fireplace.
As you tour the Inn you'll find many pleasant surprises such as the original brass lighting fixture with Steuben glass shades in the library, the original Tiffany lamp on the newel post of the grand staircase, the floor to ceiling stained glass windows on the staircase landing, the original servants call system that still works, intricate parquet floors in the sitting room and formal dining room, gorgeous cherry pocket doors and much, much more.
Now on the National Register of Historic Places, the Inn is much the same as when it was first built, with a few exceptions. As with any 100 plus year old home, restoration and improvements continue.
The Carriage House was used to store the Smith carriages and the horses. Horses were boarded in what is now the Box Stall bedroom on the first floor. It is reported that W. W. Smith owned the first automobile in Sleepy Eye and shortly after, the Carriage House was converted to a garage. In the late 1990's the Carriage House was converted to guest rooms.