A Short History of The Historic Elk Mountain Hotel
Known as Wyoming's Hidden Gem
The hotel and dining room served the public from 1905 to 2000, when it was closed for a total rehabilitation. The hotel was transformed back in time.
The old exterior asbestos shingles were removed to expose the original cedar lap siding. The grounds were landscaped and new wooden sidewalks installed. The windows, doors, staircase, china cabinets and flooring were refurbished. The original embossed tin ceilings in the parlor, lobby, dining room and office were restored to look new again and must be amongst the loveliest in Wyoming. The 16-second floor guest rooms were reconfigured to 11-rooms so that each room has a private bath each with a 7 foot shower height.
Previously unused attic space was developed into a modern 3rd floor conference room equipped with wireless internet, LCD projector, Screen and other conference essentials.
The interior decorating follows an eclectic style, with a touch of Victorian elegance and Country charm. The antiques, reproduction pieces and rich colors throughout the hotel give a warm, inviting feel for our guests. Once inside you realize this is a hotel with a soul. After completion of the two year renovation, the hotel re-opened its doors in May, 2002.
See article from the Wyoming History Society:
The Elk Mountain Hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places
The Historic Garden Spot Pavilion and the Big Band Era
In 1880 a dance hall was built on the property. It became an informal social center for the community and surrounding areas. Since the dance hall was the only community gathering place within a 50-mile radius, it became an important element of the town.
Life in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries on the high plains of Wyoming fostered feelings of isolation. Distances traveled, extended works days and the long windy winters in Wyoming kept people from venturing very far from the area. After the hotel was built, it and the dance hall offered a place for social interaction and a haven from an often lonely environment.
John S. Evans added an extension to the original dance hall in 1920, as an open air pavilion. Later it was enclosed using rough sawn knotty pine. A small gallery of benches surrounded the dance floor and it had a raised stage.
A feature of the new addition was a springy dance floor. The effect was accomplished by laying oak flooring over widely spaced pine log moorings encased in concrete. When large groups of people would get out on the floor to dance the spring action would become apparent. The old saying went, “If you can’t dance, just jump on and ride”.
The purchase in January, 1947, by Mark Jackson, brought the “Big Bands Era” to Elk Mountain. After remodeling to the dance hall in the spring of 1948, Jackson announced the reopening of the Garden Spot Pavilion. With the decline of interest in the Big Band sound in the East, groups encountered difficulty in securing regular bookings. Taking any dates they could find brought bands farther west than their usual venues.
Monopolizing on availability, Jackson attracted bands heading to Salt Lake City from Denver for engagements; they stopped over in Elk Mountain for a night’s performance.
The Garden Spot hosted many great bands. Prominent entertainment luminaries that graced the Pavilion’s stage included Tommy Dorsey, Gene Krupa, Les Brown, Lawrence Welk and Louis Armstrong. Also performing were country and western artists like Hank Thompson, Jim Reeves, Tex Williams and Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys.
The Garden Spot provided a refuge for the famous entertainer, as well as the struggling musician, and brought Wyoming into the mainstream of American popular music culture. The hotel hosts a gallery of photos of the stars of that magic era on loan from the Estate of R. V. Bailey
Click here for a listing of Big Bands that played at the Garden Spot Pavillion
Click here for a photo gallery of performers who played at the Garden Spot Pavillion
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