|Old Faithful Inn Renovation
|All photos this page (c) 2005-20012 by F. Markley and may not be used without permission in writing.
|(Please see bottom of page for more detailed description of the over $30 million, multi-year renovation of the Old Faithful Inn)
Old Faithful Inn Renovation
Note: When the Old Faithful Inn opened for the summer 2006 season on Monday, June 26, project
manager Peter Galindo reported its renovation to be about 2/3 complete. In reality, the work was finally
completed in 2012.. The photos above were taken from August 24 to August 30, 2005 as some rather
dramatic work was being done to the exterior. Here is a summary of the work progress at the time these
pictures were taken:
From October 2004 through June 2005 while the Old Faithful Inn was closed to the public much of the
interior renovation of the Inn's lobby was under way. A 7" sunken area around the fireplace was put back
into the floor similar to its original 1904 appearance. The entire lobby floor was covered with plywood
sheeting, to be covered during winter 2005-2006 with permanent maple flooring. The basement area and
crawl spaces were enlarged and upgraded into a more functional utility/service/storage area. Work was
begun adding steel reinforcements to the entire structure. In addition, the registration desk was expanded
to share space with the new activities desk. A new hostess desk built of stone and metal trim was added
near the entrance to the dining hall. Two support log walls, removed over the years, were rebuilt as in the
original 1904 plans. When the building reopened for the season in July 2005, work concentrated on the
exterior. At the time these photos were taken, the roof was in the process of being reconditioned for
eventual covering with new shingles, and the widow's walk at the top had been mostly torn down in
preparation for replacement.
After 100 years of wear and attack from extreme Yellowstone weather, the demands of yearly guest use,
as well as damaging effects of the 1959 earthquake, the Old Faithful Inn was beginning to show its age,
becoming structurally unsound and increasingly unable to withstand the force of heavy winter snows and
the threat of another severe earthquake. In 2001 the decision was made to undertake a complete and
thorough renovation of the Inn that would upgrade the structure and make it seismically stable, bringing it
up to code for the 21st century. This was not intended to be a modernization, but an effort to preserve the
historic structure for future generations.
A&E Architects of Missoula, Montana spent nearly 2-1/2 years comparing original drawings of the Inn with
what is there today. Many talks were held with federal and state historic preservationists as well as officials
at Xanterra, the company that currently operates the Old Faithful Inn. In the end, a plan was developed to
upgrade the structure while not compromising the Inn's overall character and appearance.
The 7.5 magnitude earthquake in 1959 had done much to separate the frame of the building from its
foundation. To correct that problem, the building would be pulled together and stabilized by various means
including the use of steel beam reinforcement and underlayers of plywood sheeting that offer some give
while holding parts together throughout.
Electrical wiring, plumbing, and heating would be upgraded to meet code, and wires, pipes, and sprinkling
systems hidden as much as possible.
Work will continue year round during this extensive renovation, with interior work being done during the off
season. Temporary on-site camps house workers during the winter. The Inn's interior heat cannot be
turned on during the winter months because the building is not insulated and escaping heat would cause
unwanted and damaging snow melt on the roof.
The restoration is expected to be fully completed by the spring of 2008 at a cost of $21.36 million dollars.
Changes to the lobby
Those familiar with the Inn will notice some changes to the appearance of the lobby. The entrances to the
gift shop and Pony Express snack shop have changed with the reconstruction of two log walls in that area.
These load-bearing walls were a part of the original structure, but were removed during past renovations.
The stone water fountain "bubbler" has been relocated to its original position as seen in early photos and
postcards of the lobby.
Another noticeable change is the addition of a hostess station built of rock and metal framing near the
entrance to the dining room. The activities desk which was previously in that area is now incorporated into
the existing registration desk, which has been extended into the 1927-1928 expanded lobby area.
A major change in the lobby is the return of the 7" sunken area around the fireplace. This too was part of
the original design but was removed many years ago (some think to add additional dancing space for
guests, though it seems likely there may have been additional reasons back then for filling in this area).
The plywood sheeting that covers the lobby floor in these photos now serves as an underlayer for
permanent hardwood maple flooring added during the winter of 2005-2006.
Public restroom facilities will be improved, including the addition of a new restroom in the corner of the
snack shop that was formerly used for serving ice cream. Plans are to return more of the historic
cartoon-like wooden panels to the snack shop. (In the 1980s, the designs of these panels were
reproduced in etched glass windows that now divide the Bear Pit Lounge and the Inn's dining room.)
During the 1959 earthquake chunks of fallen brick blocked two of the Inn's large fireplaces. At the end of
the renovation all four main fireplaces in the large chimney will be fully functional. Also the chimney is to be
given better support at its foundation for improved stability [note: the chimney/fireplace renovation was
undertaken and completed in spring/summer 2012].
Not so visible to the casual observer is steel reinforcement added to the lobby to give the structure
Changes to "Old House" rooms
Current plans are to regain two log guest rooms from reclaimed areas off the lobby that were originally
used for guests, but over the years have been taken away for other purposes. This will result in 108 Old
House rooms and a total of 329 guest rooms for the Old Faithful Inn.
All Old House rooms will remain without telephone jacks, although limited Internet access will be available in
the breezeway and rotunda that join the east and west wings to the main structure.
The yellow will be replaced with period-style reproduction wash basins, and the noisy radiators replaced
with new versions, also in the style of the period, that heat more quietly with a hot water system rather than
Although the original Old House rooms had large throw rugs with exposed flooring along the edges, the
original flooring has been replaced and rugs attached, with flooring still exposed along the edges.
The National Park Service granted Wyoming woodworker Rich Holstein rights to both the 1936 maple lobby
flooring as well as the original 1904 Old House fir flooring as long as he removed it. Holstein has in turn
made and sold frames of this wood. In the week before the Inn's 2006 opening, he donated and installed
110 framed mirrors in all 108 Old House rooms and in the first floor lobby.
Exposed sprinkler systems and wiring will be hidden wherever possible so that the rooms might actually
look more as they did originally. In addition, insulation is to be added to the walls and may make rooms
Windows have been repaired or replaced in most Old House rooms.
Renovation of the exterior
The Inn's roof, including that of the lobby and dining room, has been reinforced with hidden steel beams to
help bear the load of heavy winter snows. Large sheets of plywood have been applied to the roof and
covered with plastic sheeting, which serves as a waterproof underlayer for replacement shingles.
The widow's walk ihas been rebuilt and all 8 flagpoles returned to the top of the Inn. Although after
renovations the widow's walk is again structurally sound, there are no plans to allow the public to have
access to it. Fire codes require that there be two exits for it to be open to the public, and it was designed to
have just one. There are currently no plans to change this design.
Any rotting beams and timbers were replaced, and the exterior walls reshingled.
The general contractor for the project, Swank Enterprises of Kalispell, MT, has been working closely with
the project manager for the park service, Peter Galindo.
1. "Inn Saved from Fire Will Undergo Face Lift," by Becky Bohrer (AP), LA Daily News, May 1, 2004.
2. "Inn with the New," by Eve Byron, Helena Independent Record, February 20, 2005.
3. "New Life for the Old House," by Eve Byron, Helena Independent Record, May 26, 2005.
4. Old Faithful Inn: Crown Jewel of National Park Lodges, by Karen Wildung Reinhart and Jeff Henry (Roche Jaune Pictures, Inc.,
Emigrant, Montana, 2004).
5. "My Stamp on History," by Justin R. Lessman, The Powell Tribune, June 24, 2006.
6. "Old Faithful Inn Opens for Business," by Ruffin Prevost, Billings Gazette, June 27, 2006.
7. Additional information from Xanterra and the National Park Service.
Above: Worker restains original log supports on the Inn's front deck.
Above: Workers repair roof and add underlayer of waterproof sheeting.
Above: Yellow chutes carry refuse to dumpster below.
Widow's walk is being mostly rebuilt (but will remain closed to public).
Above: Light shines through exposed areas in roof.
Above: Large tarps in the lobby protect guests below from debris.
Above: Line forms for supper on Yellowstone's
traditional "Christmas," August 25.
Above: View showing 7" sunken area around fireplace.
Above: View showing new log walls added to the lobby's west side.
Above: Floor-level view of sunken area around fireplace.
Above: Dormers under repair were still occupied by guests inside.
Above: Temporary wooden walkway protects visitors below.
Above: Log wall added between bellhop station and stairs.
Above: Plywood sheeting serves as an underlayer for
permanent maple flooring to come.
Above: Entrance to gift shop has changed with addition of wall.
Above: Newly combined registration/activities desk extends into the
1920s extension of the lobby.
Above: Pony Express snack shop has a new entrance. Stone drinking
fountain "bubbler" has been moved back to its original location.
The area at the bottom of the stairs will remain off limits to the
Above: An underlayer has been added in preparation for reshingling.
Above: Supplies lifted to work area on front deck above porte cochere.
|Photos from August 24 to August 30, 2005
|(For larger views please click photos)
|Above and right: The photos above and to the right were taken by workers of
Intermountain Restoration Inc., who were directly involved in the restoration
project. These and many more photos of the Old Faithful Inn renovation can be
seen on the company's website at http://historicpreservationspecialist.com as well
as their facebook page at facebook/historicpreservationspecialist.com.