Catalog Number: 2006.036.01-25
Over the years, La Crosse has been home to quite a few hotels, but none can be described as more glamorous during its time than the Stoddard Hotel.
It opened in 1904 and was named after La Crosse’s first mayor, Col. Thomas Stoddard. Presidents John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon stayed there, as well as celebrities including Elvis Presley and Frank Lloyd Wright.
In 2006, a few months before she died at age 98, Marian Elliott donated memorabilia from her business, the Stoddard Hotel, to the La Crosse County Historical Society.
Marian had an early start in the world of hotel ownership. Her parents owned the Foeste Hotel, a 220-room hotel in Sheboygan, Wis., along with three other hotels in Wisconsin, Michigan and Arizona. Marian attended Dayton University and received a degree in commerce.
After graduation, she married Ernest Geyer and had a daughter. Shortly after they were married, Geyer suffered a fatal heart attack, and Marian moved back to Sheboygan with her young daughter.
Back home, Marian successfully operated her parents’ hotel for more than a decade. In 1959, she married the president of the Wisconsin Hotel Association, John Elliott. John and Marian were acquaintances over the years through their shared profession.
In La Crosse, John Elliott had been running the Stoddard Hotel since the late 1920s and had seen the hotel through its most extensive renovation and expansion. The couple lived at the hotel until they sold the business in 1972 and purchased the Elliott Arms Apartments.
Marian Elliott was managing and operating hotels during a time when it was unheard of for women to do so. Even though they had sold the hotel, she saved these keys and other memorabilia from their time at the Stoddard Hotel.
This article was originally published in the La Crosse Tribune on November 17, 2018.