A voice-mail message at the storied hotel in Wabasha starts out with a promising welcome.

Then comes a sigh, and these words, "We are sad to say that due to the bad economics that are going on, the Historic Anderson House has had to close its doors."

Until it stopped operating Thursday, the Anderson House had been the longest running inn in the state. It was built in 1856 when Wabasha was a bustling Mississippi River town.

Since then, people had gone to spend the night there or dine in its restaurant, which had become known for its chicken noodle soup and other items made from scratch.

Teresa and Mike Smith, who have owned and run the hotel since 2004, could not be reached for comment. Chris Fancher, director of the Wabasha-Kellogg Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau, confirmed the closing.

The building is on the National Register of Historic Places, but may be more famous for its collection of cats that guests could bring into their rooms for the night.

One of the inn's cats was made famous by a 1997 children's book, "Blumpoe the Grumpoe Meets Arnold the Cat." In the story, a curmudgeon travels to Wabasha, stays at the Anderson House and is softened by the black-and-white feline that insists on sleeping in his room.

Fancher said that the more than dozen cats that resided at the hotel have been adopted by friends and former employees.

"The hotel was a landmark in Wabasha ever since it was built," Fancher said. "People are a little shocked. It is one of those places that you always take for granted because it's always been there."