On July 4, 1876, Chapman House opened its hotel with a grand ball and dining for guests. Built by brothers Seymour and Sumner Chapman, the three-story hotel overlooked Cooks Bay in the Upper Lake with its 7 acres sloping gently to the shoreline.
With room for 80 guests by 1877, the dining room could serve 200 visitors at a sitting. Chapman House advertised its quiet comfort; seclusion; spacious, airy rooms; broad verandas and sweeping lawns. Tourists could reach the hotel by boat and later by train and automobile.
The area was even given notice in the June 1899 issue of the National Health Journal, which noted: “… no section of our country can lay claim to an ideal health resort like Minnetonka. Here nature has spread a dreamy maze of beauty … waters reflect the blue of the summer skies and pure, health-giving air is cooled by grateful winds … inspiration for the poet, subjects for the artist.”