Filed Under Missoula

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.

Images

Florence Hotel Florence Hotel, Missoula, Montana. View is looking to the northwest. Cars are parked along the street and traveling along the street Pedestrians can be seen. Source: Montana Memory Project Creator: Rollin H. McKay Date: ca. 1945
Florence Hotel Florence Hotel in downtown Missoula, Montana. Numerous cars are parked along the streets in front of the hotel. Other buildings can be seen to the sides of the hotel. The photograph was taken looking through a brick archway. Source: Montana Memory Project Creator: Rollin H. McKay Date: ca. 1945
Florence Hotel, Missoula, Montana The new Florence Hotel. Missoula, Montana. Looking across the street, south, down Higgins Avenue. The Penney Company store can be seen near the hotel. Source: Montana Memory Project Creator: Rollin H. McKay Date: ca. 1945
Drawing of the original Hotel Florence and Eddy Block, Missoula, Montana. View of a drawing of the Hotel Florence and Eddy Block, Missoula, Montana. Drawing from the Missoula Souvenir Edition of the Columbus Memorial, Jan. 1, 1893. Source: 949-430, Montana Historical Society Research Center Photograph Archives, Helena, MT. Creator: Krause, E. L. Date: January 1, 1883.

Location

111 North Higgins Avenue, Missoula, Montana | Private

Metadata

The Montana National Register Sign Program, “Florence Hotel,” Historic Montana, accessed February 9, 2023, https://historicmt.org/items/show/1641.