Newlyweds Lot and Hilda Borden arrived in Whitehall early in 1900, and for the next seventy years, their business contributed to the local economy. At first, Lot ran a saloon and Hilda a cafe. The Bordens built the east portion of the present building in 1913 as a billiard hall, saloon, and second-floor dance hall. Its eye-catching canted corner recalls the days when Whitehall, situated along both the old highway and the Northern Pacific Railroad, was a hub for tourists. Railroad workers—who proved loyal patrons over the next fifty years—persuaded the Bordens to convert the dance hall to hotel rooms in 1916. The Bordens soon expanded, adding a one-story lobby and restaurant to the west in 1919. During Prohibition, the saloon became a commercial storefront housing the Golden Rule, the telephone exchange, and other enterprises. Upon Lot’s death in 1922, Hilda ran both the hotel and restaurant. In 1929, she commissioned Bozeman architect Fred Willson to design the attached Craftsman style residence. With the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, Hilda obtained the town’s first beer license and the Modern Hotel became the Borden Hotel. Business was so brisk that in 1941 Fred Willson designed a second-story addition, adding nine hotel rooms. The crisp stepped parapet, similar to the older one adjacent, architecturally melds the older and newer portions. Although tourism declined after the construction of Interstate 90 in 1961, Hilda continued in business until her death at 91 in 1971. The Whitehall community remembers her for financing the education of many a local youngster. The Borden Hotel still anchors Legion Avenue.



101 West Legion, Whitehall, Montana ~ Private