Hormel Historic Home — King’s Wood Hotel was Hormel venture

More this week from "Hormel Life Isn’t Peanuts" about Geordie Hormel and the King’s Wood written by Will Jones, probably in 1959:

"Geordie Hormel has been learning the hotel and restaurant business the hard way during the past year: by turning the huge Hormel family home at Austin, Minn., into a hotel and restaurant.

He hopes to have things running well enough by next fall so that he can devote his time to another business that’s new to him: running a radio station.

‘I’ll learn that the way I’ve learned the hotel business,’ he said.

Operation of King’s Wood hotel isn’t the first business he has learned just by plunging in with both feet. Several years ago he started a recording company.


Before that, he spent some time learning the meat-packing business founded by his grandfather, George A. Hormel, and continued by his father, Jay C. Hormel.

Today, Geordie Hormel’s greatest concern with Hormel meats is to see them properly served in his hotel’s three dining rooms...

‘I’ve been trying to get a radio station for five years,’ he said. ‘What I really wanted was a 250-watt station, with a studio right here in the house.’

Hormel, a recording bug and do-it-yourselfer, built a large recording studio into the basement of the house. Three of his five pianos now are stored there. The room would have served as a broadcasting studio.

‘The local radio station kept opposing me before the Federal Communications Commission,’ Hormel said, ‘and the only way I could beat them was to apply for a 5,000-watt station at 970.’

‘I have an okay to go ahead with that, but instead of spending maybe $20,000 for a station right here on the grounds, I’ve got to find another site and spend $150,000, and even though the station is more powerful it won’t bring in that much more revenue.’

‘It’s going to be a music station, but I have the feeling that the Top 40 kind of programming has worn itself out commercially, and I have some feelings about noisy commercials that I’m going to try. I think a station coming in now with the programming of 10 years ago might just be an oasis.’

The station’s call letters will be KQAQ. He expects it to be on the air by fall."


Next week: Geordie’s recording firm Zephyr and more on his life in Austin in the late 1950s.

Under construction

Thank you to the over 170 individuals, businesses and foundations that have already supported the HHH expansion. We are preparing for construction with asbestos removal, demolition of the Carriage House and digging a new basement. We will continue to accept donations toward the project to help cover unexpected costs. Donors are invited to mail gifts to the Hormel Historic Home at 208 Fourth Ave. NW, Austin, MN 55912. For more information or to make an online donation, visit the Hormel Historic Home web site at

The HHH will continue to be available for rental events during construction. Please call for details of the space available.

‘King of SPAM’ CD available

The HHH is thrilled to announce that Hormel family members have collaborated on a CD to benefit the Hormel Historic Home. The Hormel Family Band, led by Jim Hormel, produced "King of SPAM" featuring hits of the 1930s and 40s. Tracks include "Pennies from Heaven," "Bye Bye Blackbird," "You Are My Sunshine" and 11 other classics. CDs, featuring a vintage photo of Jay C. Hormel playing the tuba, are available for $15 each at the HHH office. All proceeds benefit the HHH.

Social Concerns

Join us at 11 a.m. April 21 for Social Concerns: Preventing Identity Theft presented by Mower County Law Enforcement. A free lunch is served at noon. Please RSVP by April 17 to 433-4243 or so we can prepare enough lunch for everyone. This program is funded in part by the United Way of Mower County. Everyone is welcome.


Laura Helle is the director of the Hormel Historic Home, 208 Fourth Ave. N.W., Austin.

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