Billings Townsite Historic District
A twist of fate landed 16-year-old German immigrant Alfred Heimer a job with Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show in 1894. Although the irascible Colonel Cody fired young Heimer three times during that first day, the youth remained as steward of Cody’s private railway car until 1903, developing a close friendship with the famous frontiersman. The genial Heimer settled in Billings and built the Rex Bar circa 1909, which served such colorful patrons as Buffalo Bill and Will James. Early advertisements extolled Heimer’s German lunches and promised the “Best Beer in Town.” Circa 1917, addition of the third floor converted Heimer’s “nice furnished rooms” into a classy hotel that hosted many dignitaries including the great Crow chief, Plenty Coups, who stayed here in 1921 en route to Washington, D.C. Under new proprietors the Rex flourished during Prohibition; the bar simply went under cover. The hotel closed in 1974 and narrowly escaped demolition. Award-winning rehabilitation has restored the Rex to its former glory, where the hospitality first offered by Alfred Heimer is again Billings tradition.