Located at 636 West Washington Avenue in Madison, the Hotel was created at the Milwaukee Road railroad depot in Madison in 1885. Originally named the Commercial Hotel, it was a low-rent hotel and halfway house through most of the twentieth century, until it was purchased by Rodney Scheel in 1975 for $190,000.At the time, it also contained a "greasy spoon" restaurant called the HOT L Cafe. Rodney and his brother and business partner Greg converted the cafe into the Café Palms, a higher-end eating establishment.

After Rodney Scheel's death in 1990, his brother, Greg Scheel, continued to operate the Hotel Washington with no break in continuity.

At the building's peak in the 1990s, several other businesses were located within the confines of the building, including Rod's, a historically significant gay bar[ [wikipedia].
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