Lucille Parker shares 72 years of Minot history

Lucille Parker has the notoriety of having lived in the Leland-Parker Hotel in Minot.

The hotel, once standing at the corner of Main Street and Central Avenue, was demolished some years ago. Now that corner is the site of the new Artspace, a housing and retail complex, being built in downtown Minot.

Parker, who is 90, has lived in Minot for 72 years. She lived in the Leland-Parker Hotel when she and Bill Parker were first married. They were married in 1948 in Cheyenne, Wyo. Bill was the only son of Esther Parker, who was the only daughter of Clarence Parker, a prominent Minot businessman and area rancher, and his first wife Gertrude. Clarence and his sister, Lottie, owned the Leland-Parker.

“We lived there for awhile. It was on the second floor in a small suite,” Lucille Parker said, adding, “But we didn’t cook.”

According to The Minot Daily News files, Clarence and Lottie Parker’s parents, William and Elizabeth Parker, who had operated hotels in other states and also in Devils Lake, came to Minot in the late 1800s and built and operated the Parker House that stood at the site of the former Elks Home on Main Street. The Parker House burned down in the fall of 1887. The Parkers left Minot for a few years but returned in 1895 and rented, then bought, from Allan Tompkins the Leland House, which stood on the corner where the Leland-Parker Hotel once stood for many years.

Lucille Parker said it was fun living in the hotel.

“We’d eat at the cafe, The LaPlaza, and then across the hall was the bar, The Buffalo Tap,” she said. The Buffalo Tap had a big buffalo head hanging on the wall a feature that many people remember about the Leland-Parker.

“It (the cafe) was very nice one of the better ones in Minot at that time,” she said.

Charlie DeMakis was the main chef and manager of The LaPlaza. When Lucille and Bill were living there, DeMakis started his own business, Charlie’s Cafe.

“I can remember us walking from the hotel up to Charlie’s with Aunt Lottie and Esther (Bill’s great-aunt and mother),” she said.

Bill’s mother lived in the penthouse in the Leland-Parker, and his great-aunt lived in the second floor suite of the hotel, where her mother had also lived.

Bill’s grandfather, Clarence Parker, and Clarence’s second wife, Ruth, lived in the penthouse in the nearby and then brand new Clarence Parker Hotel, Lucille Parker said.

“I remember when that was opened. It was a big opening, a big deal,” Parker recalled. She said a big banquet was being planned. “I can remember Aunt Lottie saying, ‘We’ve got to get new gowns.” She said she and Lottie bought their gowns at Bader’s, a women’s wear store on Main Street and across from the Leland-Parker.

The Clarence Parker Hotel was considered one of the state’s finest hotels. That hotel had the notoriety of hosting President Dwight Eisenhower when he came to North Dakota in 1953 for the dedication of the Garrison Dam.

Today, the former Clarence Parker Hotel is home to the Minot Commission on Aging on the first floor and the Parker Suites apartments on the other floors.

Lucille Parker, who was raised at Palermo and moved to Minot to attend business college and work, said she didn’t recall a lot of the activities at the Leland-Parker.

“You see, when we were first married, I was still working at the 1st National Bank. I was secretary to Charlie Anderson, one of the vice presidents. There were three vice presidents and Al Weinhandl was the president at that time,” she said. The bank was on Main Street, kitty-corner from the Leland-Parker.

“We lived in the Leland at least a couple of years,” Parker said. She said they then had a small apartment just off the south end of Main Street until they bought their first house and later built a house. Later they lived in other locations.

Both of her children, David, of Rochester, Minn., and Lynette, of Fargo, were born in Minot. Of her six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, a grandson, Mark, lives in Minot.

Parker has lived in Minot since she graduated from high school, except for a short time that Bill and she spent in Los Angeles. She worked at a bank in downtown Los Angeles.

Parker said the Leland-Parker always was a very nice hotel.

“It was the biggest and nicest,” she said.

“Then when the Clarence Parker opened, Esther and I opened a candy shop in the lobby at the Clarence Parker. That was a fun thing,” she said.

Lucille and Bill also ran the cafe in the Clarence Parker Hotel for awhile.

Bill died in 1992. Bill’s mother, grandfather Clarence and great-aunt Lottie died prior.

The Leland-Parker is gone – replaced with a parking lot and now the new Artspace. Parker said she is pleased the Parker name has been retained on the building that once housed the Clarence Parker Hotel.