Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Old Postcard Wednesday--Northern Hotel Lobby, Billings, Montana

Honestly, I don't know if this place still exists, and at 2:15 a.m., I truly don't care! Where I've so enjoyed doing online research for all preceding Old Postcard Wednesday posts, I've had a frustrating time researching this old hotel in Billings, Montana, and I need to vent a bit.

The supposed website for the hotel offers the following page (I mean, is this a joke?):

Welcome to

Questions? We have the answers.

The Northern Hotel

What I have learned, or think I've learned, is that it came to be known in recent years as the Historic Northern Hotel. There are a few old postcards to view online that show the outside of the hotel, one in the 1950's. Searches give numerous travel information sites that list this hotel and they award it with anywhere from two to four stars, depending upon the site.

To further complicate things, it seems that the address, 19 N. Broadway, is also known as 19 N. 28th. Apparently Broadway is 28th, as I confirmed on a map. Some travel sites list The Historic Northern Hotel at the Broadway address and others use the 28th Street address. Here's a review from MyTravelGuide that is actually dated 2008:

the Historic Northern Hotel


19 North Broadway, Billings, MT

Historic Northern Hotel offers traditional elegance and hospitality. This full-service, freshly renovated, historic Hotel anticipates your needs with complimentary airport shuttle service, covered parking, on-site gift shop and fitness center.

All rooms offer full size ironing boards and irons, as well as hair dryers. Complimentary in-room coffee is provided. Enjoy the award winning cuisine of the Golden Belle Restaurant or unwind in Billings' favorite Golden Belle Saloon. With over 10,000 square feet of newly refurbished meeting and banquet space, the Historic Northern Hotel comfortably accommodates meetings and banquets for up to five hundred people. Adjacent to the meeting space is a large preconvene area, perfect for receptions and convention registrations. The Hotel's 24-hour fitness center is fully equipped with a life cycle and life step, Schwinn Aerodyne, flat and incline benches, California gold multi-station gym and free weights.

But the Chamber of Commerce in Billings doesn't include the Historic Northern Hotel in its website list of lodging "partners." I thought: that seems weird, but maybe it's too old and run-down for the Chamber to refer tourists there. So I called the phone number listed at Yahoo! Travel, that also included 13 reviews of the hotel with the most recent having been written in 2006, ready with questions for the night clerk. Instead, a female robot at the other end of the line said that the number I dialed "is temporarily out of service."

And for now so am I.


raccoonlover1963 said...

Neat old picture, even though it is a drawing. Don't you just hate it when the internet gives you everything except what you are actually looking for?

Wayfaring Wanderer said...

I think I would have 'checked out' at that point too!

Thank you for putting in the effort to share with us :)

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

I thought this postcard looked a bit like a painting by Hopper - that kinda style.

How DO you stop Niagra Falls just out of interest? Wierd

francessa said...

Is this really a drawing or one of those ancient colorated prints?

If those hotel questions are a joke, nobody will get it!

Why is it that such big lobbies always remind me of that old 'Welcome to the Hotel California song' (although this lobby isn't remotely similar to my imagined Hotel C. lobby)?

.. such a lovely place ...plenty of room any time of the year .. mirrors on the ceilings.. :-)

Katie said...

I love all the different shades of green in the postcard, and the painted mural on the wall. Looks like such a grand place! Next time I'm in Montana maybe I'll go to Billings and see what I can find out about this mysterious hotel. Thanks for all your hard work though!

Lydia said...

Lisa and Francessa,
I can't for the life of me tell looking at the original if this is a drawing or one of "those ancient colorated prints"! It has a linen finish that adds to the mystery. One minute I think drawing, the next minute I think colorated print. Thanks for keeping the dilemma fresh!

Wayfaring Wanderer and Katie,
Thanks to both of you for mentioning my efforts at postcard sleuthdome.

It is weird. Now that you mention a resemblance to a Hopper-style painting, here I go again: painting or colorated print???

Leigh Enselman said...

In September of 2006, the Northern Hotel was closed and in January 2009, was sold at auction. It is slated to open early 2013 under new ownership and management. The building has been stripped back to the beams and completely remodeled, has new staff, and will include 2 new restaurants. Check out The Northern Hotel on Facebook for updates on the renovation! The new phone number for the hotel is (406) 867-6767 and the new website is

Tucker said...

The Northern hotel is set to open March 15, 2013. When finished, it will once again be the best hotel in Montana. You can learn more about the hotel, and who to contact about a reservation at

Anonymous said...

This is the original Northern Hotel and it burned down in 1940. A new Northern Hotel stands in its place but the original was much more ornate and fancy compared to what they rebuilt it with.

Lydia said...

Thank you to those of you who have left comments about this post! The information you gave certainly adds to the post. I am most appreciative!



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