Many Glacier Hotel to Operate at Half Capacity in 2011

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Many Glacier Hotel

The next phase of a long-term rehabilitation project for Glacier National Park’s Many Glacier Hotel in Montana will begin just after this summer’s tourist season ends in September.

The upcoming $9,531,200 restoration project phase addresses interior renovation work in the northern half of the hotel. This includes 50 percent of the guest rooms, dining room, Interlaken Lounge, rmployee fining room as well as other employee and maintenance areas.

“The components are being combined to compress the timeline for the work, reduce cost and minimize impact to hotel guests and the public,” said Park Superintendent Chas Cartwright.

Cartwright added that half the guestrooms will be closed during the 2011 summer season as well as the main dining room. Meals will be served in the nearby, but considerable smaller, Swiss Lounge.

According to the National Park Service, the restoration of lost historic elements is not funded as part of this project, where surfaces and fixtures (walls, floors, lighting, etc.) are to be removed for Life/Safety repairs and rehabilitation work, replacement surfaces and fixtures will include historically-compatible surfaces and fixtures.

Part of a multiphase hotel rehabilitation plant, the work focuses on correcting life safety and seismic issues identified in earlier assessments of the 1915 structure build by the Great Northern Railway. Funding comes from $15.6 million of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus allocations.

Earlier phases of the Many Glacier Hotel rehabilitation completed in 2005 focused on structural stabilization and the building’s exterior which had been impacted by harsh environmental conditions over time. The National Park Service has requested additional funding in 2013 and 2014 for the remaining guest rooms, lobby, south bridge, annex and lower level meeting rooms.

In 1995, Patricia Leigh Brown wrote in he New York Times (“American’s Crumbling Parkitecture”) that “the price The price tag on the Many Glacier Hotel, which opened in 1915 as the stoic showpiece of the ‘American Alps,’ is estimated at around $45 million, a figure that is “almost 50 percent of the entire U.S. National Park Service construction budget,” said Dave Mihalic, Glacier’s superintendent at the time.

Brown added that while Americans think of the national parks as wilderness areas, over half them revolve around cultural landmarks such as the hotel. In addition to time and the elements, restoration and rehabilitation at many park sites have fallen short at a time when Congress is creating new parks and visitation is soaring, but budgets are falling short of need, leading to large shortfalls for historic preservation.

In 1996, the National Trust for Historic Preservation listed Many Glacier Hotel on it’s “11 Most Endangered list” of threatened historic buildings. According to the National Trust, “Tight budgets, increasing demands on park staff and changing priorities have resulted in little or no maintenance of historic structures. As a result, the sites are left to rot, become safety hazards, are then closed to the public and eventually lost entirely.”

The park’s 1999 General Management Plan viewed Many Glacier Hotel and the Granite Park and Sperry Chalets as high priorities. Their preservation has become part of $750 in federal stimulus money for 800 projects. $17 million has been earmarked for Glacier National Park.

–Malcolm

Each purchase benefits Glacier National Park

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3 responses

    • While many of us would not sanction placing a hotel in this location in an existing national park, Many Glacier Hotel was built five years after the park was created. As such, it is a part of the park’s history, so I very much the restoration effort.

      Malcolm

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