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Eklund Artifacts on Display
at Herzstein Memorial Museum

Lobby of the Eklund Hotel from the collection of the Herzstein Memorial Museum

By Sharon Niederman

For a glimpse of what the Eklund Hotel was really like in the old days, visit the Herzstein Memorial Museum on the corner of Second and Walnut Streets in Clayton. There, in the continuing exhibit, “The Eklund Hotel,” you’ll find intriguing items from the hotel’s past. Mr. and Mrs. Carl Eklund’s antique metal bedroom set is on exhibit, as are many vintage photographs — with three views of the Eklund circa 1909 — that articulate times gone by far better than words. Many items were gathered for this exhibit, while others came from the museum’s permanent collection. You’ll find original items from the hotel lobby, including two Mission rockers, table and statuary as well as an umbrella stand, plus everyday artifacts such as textiles discovered during the renovation, linens, including a chenille bedspread embroidered with Eklund insignia, and hotel stationery. The miniature store that once decorated the lobby of the hotel is on exhibit, as well as a hotel mattress dating from the WPA-era when a mattress factory was located in Clayton. “An Eklund Hotel whiskey jug was the first artifact we received,” notes D. Ray Blakeley, museum director.

One of those instrumental in organizing “The Eklund Hotel” exhibit is Clayton-area native Barbara Monroe, vice-president of the Union County Historical Society.

During Prohibition, the Herzstein general store operated out of the saloon, with the familiar massive lava fireplace serving as the centerpiece, Blakeley says. Earlier on, “Morris Herzstein, one of the original settlers, operated his store on the site of the Luna Theater,” says Blakeley.

“The wild and wooly west had some unusual first-class civilization, and the Eklund Hotel was one of the grand dams of that age,” says D. Ray Blakely, Herzstein Museum director.

In addition to “The Eklund Hotel,” the museum also houses furniture from the Albert and Ethel Herzstein home, including an Italian inlay bridge table and heirlooms of the Franz Dyche family and exhibits of many early pioneers.

The museum is housed in the 1919 United Methodist Church and was donated to the Union County Historical Society by the F.H. Chilcote family. The Houston-based Albert and Ethel Herzstein Charitable Foundation donated the funds for necessary renovation and repairs of the building. Early-day Clayton pioneer ranchers, merchants and civic leaders, the Herzsteins’ generosity assisted greatly with the preservation of Clayton and Union County history here. Opened in 1987, the museum is operated by the Union County Historical Society, which holds regular meetings and presents programs of local history the first Saturday of each month in the museum.While admission is free, donations are accepted. Hours of operation are 1–5 p.m. Tues. through Sun. or by appointment.

To learn more about the Herzstein Memorial Museum, please contact (505) 374-2977 or

This article was first published in the October 2003 issue of
The Eklund Westerner, the newsletter of the Eklund Hotel
Some of the items mentioned may still be seen at the Herzstein Memorial Museum
others are back at the Eklund Hotel which reopened in April, 2004

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