Alexander Mansion, circa 1886, is one of the most impressive Victorian homes you will ever find. Originally built for a local judge, Thomas Wilson, the house is masterfully constructed in early Winona’s turn-of-the-century lumber baron style, which showcases exceptional woodwork and architectural details. The Alexander family lived in the home for fifty-plus years and the Minnesota bed and breakfast now aptly bears their name.
The Alexander’s had strong ties to the J.R.Watkins Company. Maude King Alexander was the stepdaughter of company founder, J.R. Watkins, and was the sister of the second company president, E.L. King. Maude had a number of positions with the company and, notably, wrote the Watkins cookbooks under her pen name of Elaine Allen. Durand C. Alexander became senior vice president of operations. He was originally from New York. They had met on an ocean liner 1915 c.; he was a graduate of Columbia University and he was doing engineering work in the orient and she was on one of her many worldly trips.
Maude often traveled for both business and pleasure. She served on several committees in the United Nations and often accompanied her brother in search of exotic spices and medicinals for the Watkins company. Local historians submit that the J.R.Watkins Company was comparatively larger in its prime than Proctor and Gamble is today. A collection of photographs related to the Alexander family travels are currently being sorted by the Watkins company archivist and will be displayed on the walls of the third-floor billiard room in the near future. Rich with local history, the Alexander Mansion historic bed and breakfast reflects and preserves Winona’s unique river town legacy.