From the very inception of the frontier hotel business, there emerged in the Flathead Valley a hotel known for its finer amenities, the Kalispell Hotel. In 1912 the Kalispell Hotel hosted the relatively well-to-do traveller at a charge of $2 per night. This was considered twice the going rate of other hotels at that time. However, being situated in the heart of Kalispell's downtown business district and offering such privileged services as running water, door locks, and wake-ups, the Kalispell Hotel rarely hung out its vacancy sign. The three story brick structure, designed by Kalispell architect Marion Riffo and built by local contractor B. Brice Gilliland, has stood through the years as a silent sentinel to the changes in the Flathead Valley and downtown Kalispell. During World War I information about the war was shouted to crowds of people at the corner of First and Main. In 1919 the City of Kalispell installed a water fountain on the corner where the hotel still stands. The fountain emphasized the importance of the First and Main intersection. On weekend nights, the Opera House crowd would gather around the fountain and frequent the Hotel lobby.
Frank Bird Linderman, a noted writer, leased and managed the hotel from 1924 to 1926. Famed artist Charlie Russell and author Irvin S. Cobb were good friends of Linderman. On occasion, they took lunch together and then would saunter back to the hotel lobby’s stuffed leather chairs where they would sit exchanging thoughts and stories of the west.
Linderman, who lived the life of a true plainsman, migrated up the Missouri and continued overland to settle in Kalispell. He later wrote books and novels that are eagerly sought after by book collectors across the country. Charlie Russell's work is world-renowned and today, found only in the finest art galleries.
Through the years a number of individuals have owned the hotel. In the 1930's the hotel owners planned extensive renovations including the addition of a fourth floor and what would have been Kalispell's first passenger elevator. These renovations never occurred; however, between 1939 and 1941 the interior of the Kalispell Hotel was remodeled. According to a contemporary newpaper description: " . . . The modern hotel room of today has to be definitely different than that of some few years ago, as most of the travelling public of today carry radios and electric razors in its luggage, and demands box springs and inner spring mattresses for sleeping comfort. An entirely new plan of interior decoration has been carried out that is highly attractive to the eyes and gives the guest who steps within its hospitable doors an immediate feeling of physical well being and luxur y as well as appealing to his aesthetic sense."
During more recent decades the hotel fell on hard times and was reduced to taking in weekly, monthly, and even hourly tenants. In 1989 a major renovation began that brought the hotel back to vibrant life. The 51 "bath down the hall" rooms that had rented for $120 to $150 per month were transformed into 40 rooms with private baths.
The hotel reopened to guests in 1991 while renovation of the lobby continued. Today, the sweep of the original lobby can be seen, including the original oak stairway and the high, pressed-tin ceiling.
Early in Kalispell's history there were eight downtown hotels. Today only one remains—the Kalispell Grand Hotel. Inside the gracious lobby, the Kalispell Grand still awaits its guests who can readily envision the life and history of a bygone era. The Kalispell Grand Hotel—a living landmark in downtown Kalispell.