The old Doc Halpin house is getting ready for a big celebration.
Known today as Maple Knoll Inn Bed and Breakfast, the home is hosting a birthday party in honor of its 100th year as a fixture in the Rush City community. Innkeepers Jeff and Ruth Titus have been busy keeping the original flavor of the grounds that continue to grow different varieties of maple trees along the flowing waters of Rush Creek.
Newly planted flower gardens and a patio add to the beauty, while remnants of an old stone grotto still stand as a place of prayer.
A free event, Maple Knoll’s 100th birthday celebration will be held from 12:30-2 p.m. Saturday, July 19, at 685 S. Bremer Ave., Rush City. Live music and light refreshments will be offered, and guests are encouraged to bring a blanket or lawn chair. Everyone is invited.
The Tituses said the city and overall community have been encouraging and supportive of their bed and breakfast endeavor, which began just a few years ago with their own arrival to town.
“When we came in as foreigners (that is, from St. Francis, Minnesota), we were warmly welcomed by the community,” said Ruth, acknowledging a move into a small, tight-knit community can be challenging. “We cannot say enough about the people and the city.”
The couple shows their appreciation of the home by doing their best to preserve its original look. Unlike other homes from around the same era in the area, the interior at Maple Knoll Inn is no different than how it initially appeared. The exception is the kitchen, which was likely remodeled along with a lot of other work that was done on the home in the 1950s, Jeff explained.
Another unique feature is the lack of fireplaces in the home, and guests often ask about it.
“Only those who were not wealthy needed fireplaces to supply heat for their homes,” Ruth said. “When this home was completed, it was heated with hot water heat, which was state of the art for its time. It is still heated to this day by a boiler and using what is believed to be the original radiators to distribute the heat throughout most of the home.”
In their research of the estate, the innkeepers learned the house was completed in 1914 for an attorney of the Great Northern Railroad who was re-establishing his home on the property. A fire took the site’s previous home, a Victorian, which was built in the late 1800s.
The next owner, Doc Halpin, lived there from around 1933 until his death in the late ‘60s.
“He was a small-town doctor who probably worked late hours and delivered a lot of folks here. He was very well loved,” noted Ruth, who’s heard plenty of stories of years gone by.
In fact, a piece from the Halpin era can still be seen and touched to this day in the backyard.
Following the historic Hinckley fire, Jeff said, three fire towers in Rush City were built and manned by teen boys in the 1890s. Around 1960, in a time when the structures were no longer used, the circular stone and concrete base from one of the towers was repurposed as a grotto, or place of prayer, for Doc Halpin after his stroke.
“It is understood that he would go out to the grotto to spend time in prayer, and the sidewalk that was installed at the time of repurposing allowed him access to the grotto given his limitations,” Jeff said. “Very high cardinals (of the Catholic Church) and people from the community helped build it and attend its dedication.”
Ruth said the home’s lower addition to the north was completed in the 1950s when Halpin’s wife no longer wished to climb the stairs. At that point it is said they added a laundry area, bedroom and bath for their personal space, she added.
The original estate also included a separate home to the south for the staff who worked for the main home owner. An old carriage house on that neighboring property still stands today, as well.
Back at the main home, the second level addition to the north was added in 2013, providing Maple Knoll Inn guests private bathrooms and a second level deck for their use during their stay.
Jeff and Ruth Titus are the fifth owners of the home in its 100-year history.
“We feel very fortunate and appreciate the property that’s been entrusted to us,” Ruth said. “For me, it’s more than just a house or a business. I want to bring back the flower gardens and the majestic feel that makes this place special.”
Bed and breakfast era
Maple Knoll Inn Bed and Breakfast features a trio of guest rooms that are adorned with themes in connection with their names: Red Sunset, Silver Maple and Sugar Maple. Outside of their rooms, guests can relax in the home’s spacious front porch or read a book, play a game or watch a movie in second level sun room.
The grounds include a plethora of maple trees, estimated at more than 125 years old, with Rush Creek running through the middle of the 3 acres. Down the road is the historic Grant House, and classic cars can be seen driving by on Old Highway 61.
“I feel this town has a lot going for it,” Jeff noted of the unique events and places to visit in Rush City area. “We’re very pleased to be here.”
For more information about Maple Knoll Inn Bed and Breakfast and many things to do in the area, visit mapleknollinn.com or call 320-358-6280.