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Preservation group acquires old Hotel Deer Lodge

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Hotel Deer Lodge

Deer Lodge Preservation, Inc., a nonprofit that acquired the historic Hotel Deer Lodge, pictured here, in 2014, plans to renovate the structure.

DEER LODGE -- A newly formed nonprofit organization has acquired the Hotel Deer Lodge with plans to renovate the historic structure.

Katherine Bair, president of the Deer Lodge Preservation, Inc., said the group will fix up the hotel through private, business and corporate donations, grants, endowments, gifts and other financing mechanisms. 

The hotel was deeded to the preservation group by Deer Lodge Development group when it took over the $30,000 loan and interest payments

Bair said the renovation is a major undertaking that will take years to complete. She said the group is confident the public understands the renovation is part of revitalizing the downtown.

“We have received an outpouring of support from those who know that we live in an extraordinary town and this kind of renovation will help keep and attract people so our community can grow and prosper,’’ she said.

Grants from local organizations will cover taxes, insurance and other start-up expenses.

The hotel was considered the “finest hotel in Montana” when it was built in 1911, with hot and cold running water in most of the rooms and an elevator. It was one of the first steel-framed structures in Montana, and a structural engineer has determined it is sound.

The first priority of the new organization will be to raise money to replace the roof and renovate the windows. Once that is achieved, work will begin to clean the interior, she said.

Last October, the Montana State Prison fire crew painted the first floor façade on Main Street and Missouri. Recently, a grant from the Montana History Foundation funded installation of a drain system to direct water from the atrium roof until further repairs can be made.

Bair says that during the renovation process, the group will continue discussions regarding uses for the hotel – possibly as businesses, hotel rooms and apartments.

“We encourage public input and no decisions on any final use for the hotel will be made without that input,” Bair said.

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