Native peoples occupied the Little Bitterroot River Valley and enjoyed its healing hot springs long before European trappers and traders encroached upon local resources. In 1855, an 80-acre area around the hot springs was set aside as a government reserve. In 1910, the Flathead Reservation opened to homesteading and the sale of tribal allotments, along with the land of early settler Ed Lamereaux, became the townsite of Hot Springs. Originally platted as Pineville, the town lies astride Warm Springs Creek within the modern borders of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Indian Reservation. European-American settlers from the outset enjoyed the hot springs and residents catered to visitors seeking the curative mineral waters. Businessman Fred Symes purchased this property in 1929 and built a $50,000 Mission style hotel, completed in early 1930. Mission style features include the curvalinear roofline, quatrefoil windows, and stuccoed walls. The original hotel featured twenty baths, ivory enamel finishings, and doctors' services on the premises. The Symes proved a depression-proof business; expansion and improvements continued throughout the 1930s and into the mid-1940s. In the 1950s, the popularity of hot springs across Montana began to wane. Closing of the tribally owned Camas Hot Springs in 1973 was a blow and the local population, once 5,000, fell to 411 by 1990. Under new ownership and in partnership with the Hot Springs Artists Society, Inc., the Symes Hotel today has a new direction hosting local events. Once again it is a vital contributor to the community.

Images

Symes Hotel Symes Hotel. Front to side view of the building, facing west to northwest on North Wall Street. Digital photograph. Source: Montana Historical Society Creator: Joe Furshong Date: Date unknown
Symes Hotel Symes Hotel. Front view of the buildings, facing southwest near Wall Street in Hot Springs, Montana. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Photographer unidentified Date: Date unknown

Location

209 Wall Street, Hot Springs, Montana | Private

Metadata

The Montana National Register Sign Program, “Symes Hotel,” Historic Montana, accessed November 28, 2022, https://historicmt.org/items/show/1842.