Old Faithful Inn History
page 4
    Perhaps some of the most ambitious renovations were made in 1927-1928. At this time the sprawling 150-room west wing was added by Reamer. Also featuring plastered walls, this wing begins with an entrance from the lobby and splits off into a "Y" shape as it stretches toward the Hamilton Store next door. It has distinguished itself by being the part of the Inn with areas said by some to be haunted. An article entitled  "Rooms with a Boo" explored this topic in Outside Magazine's special Yellowstone issue of August 1990. According to the article "guests and employees alike claim to have seen headless apparitions floating and fire extinguishers come to life" [p. 69]. Though few guests have probably turned down rooms in this section for that reason, it is possible some may have requested them in hopes of adding a little extra atmosphere to their stay. Most, however, are serenely unaware of these stories or see them as the product of imaginative minds.
Click for larger view.
This Haynes linen postcard shows the extended porte cochere (carriage entrance), added during architect Robert Reamer's 1927-1928 renovations of the Inn.
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    Another major part of the 1927-1928 renovations was the addition of the extended "porte cochere"  (carriage entrance) at the front of the Inn. At the same time, the front wall of the Inn was pushed forward, extending the lobby some 30 feet, and the larger plate glass windows that now grace the front of the Inn were installed. (In the late summer of 1999, a guest accidentally drove a large luxury car through one of these windows. Although there were people sitting nearby in the lobby as the car crashed through, miraculously nobody was hurt. A group of skilled craftsmen, dedicated to making repairs to the Inn as authentically as possible, succeeded in returning the window to its original 1920s appearance.)
The original 1930s Bear Bit Lounge as it appeared before it was relocated in 1962. It is described on the back of the card as a "very popular cocktail lounge." The room shown in this postcard is now used as a snack and  ice cream shop, just off the lobby of the Old Faithful Inn. (Haynes postcard)
    Also during the 1927-1928 renovation, Reamer supervised the addition of a half-moon-shaped room to the side of the old dining room. In 1962 the Bear Pit Lounge moved to this location and remains there today.
Click for larger image. (collection of F. Markley)
    The original Bear Pit Lounge (above left) was added during a (post-Prohibition) 1936 renovation in the area off the lobby now housing a snack bar. Reamer requested Yellowstone Park Hotel Company cartoonists to come up with designs to be sand-blasted into its large fir-veneer panels, depicting rather bizarre, humorous scenes of animals in human situations: a down-on-his-luck bear panhandles from a well-dressed older bear couple; one animal sprays another with seltzer in a rowdy bar scene. While some of these original wooden panels can be seen encased in the present Pony Express ice cream shop, many of these designs were transferred onto etched glass panels which now line the wall separating the present half-moon shaped Bear Pit Lounge from the old section of the Old Faithful Inn dining hall.
(above) The Old Faithful Inn on the morning of July 29, 1941. During the war years 1942 through 1945, a total of 519,617 people entered Yellowstone--fewer than in the single prewar year of 1941.
     (For more photos from this July 1941 trip to Yellowstone,
Click Here.)
    There have been other changes to the Old Faithful Inn since its 1904 opening. The present registration desk and bell desk were built in spaces once originally occupied by guest rooms. Several more guest rooms were converted into the present gift shop. But in spite of these changes, the overall appearance of the old section of the Old Faithful Inn, including most of its guest rooms and the lobby, has changed little with time. Its first guests would recognize much of what we see today.
Click for larger image.
    By the 1970s, the Old Faithful Inn was beginning to show its age and was in need of serious repair. In 1979 a team of preservationists began in earnest to return the grand old structure to its previous glory. Their dedicated labor continues with efforts to ready the structure for its year-long 100th anniversary celebration in 2004.
     In 1992, the east and west wings--those areas added on to the original old structure--underwent a $6 million dollar renovation that included the addition of bathrooms in individual rooms and
more pleasing interiors, with craftsman-style maple and wicker furnishings. The common bathroom/showers in these wings were converted to other purposes, including an elevator, now allowing the handicapped to have full access to all floors. Since these wings were originally built with rather unremarkable plastered walls, there have probably been more favorable comments about these renovations than objections.
    (Above left)  1940s/1950s-era breakfast menu from the Old Faithful Inn dining room. Each meal's menu featured a photo such as this Haynes photo of one of Yellowstone's black bears. (Menu from the collection of F. Markley; image courtesy of the Haynes Foundation Collection, Montana Historical Society.)
(Below)  1949 view of the Old Faithful Inn.
Photo from the collection of F. Markley
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