Florence Hotel

Missoula Downtown Historic District

The original Florence Hotel, built on this site in 1888, offered weary railway travelers and settlers a comfortable night’s lodging. When it burned in 1913, the Florence was rebuilt as a major 106-room hostelry and was a longtime regional gathering place until it, too, was destroyed by fire in 1936. Missoula’s lack of a major hotel had serious implications, and even though the nation was then in the midst of the Depression, Walter H. McLeod and other influential businessmen secured community support to rebuild. When the elegant new Florence Hotel opened in 1941, Missoulians were especially proud that 67 percent ownership belonged to community shareholders. Spokane architect G. A. Pehrson masterfully designed the $600,000 “jewel of a hotel” in the new Art Moderne style, characterized by its rounded corners and horizontal emphasis. Terra cotta and glass blocks accent the shiny-smooth concrete and metal surfaces. The splendid 140-room hotel boasted the Northwest’s first central air conditioning system, novel glass shower doors, and first-class interior appointments in a “harmony of color.” One of only two local examples of the style, the third generation Florence reflects the town’s steadfast regional importance into the twentieth century, the growth of tourism, and the civic pride that prompted its construction.

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111 North Higgins Avenue, Missoula, Montana ~ Private