Bozeman Magazine: The History of the Baxter Hotel

Bozeman Magazine: The History of the Baxter Hotel

Back in the 1920s, in the days before commercial airports, interstate highways, and chain motels, travelers arriving in a city always headed downtown to find a good meal and a good place to stay. Every town worth its measure had a downtown hotel or two, and a good one was a source of immense pride to the community. Not only did a landmark hotel attract visitors and business, it became a center for the town itself, a community gathering place and a home for civic events. Bozeman’s Baxter Hotel was designed to serve just such a role, and it has done so not for the better part of a century, the social and architectural focal point of the city’s downtown. The origins of the Baxter date to the mid-1920s, an era when Bozeman was still a mid-sized farm town, roughly the same size as Livingston and thoroughly overshadowed by the urban metropolis of Butte. Back then, the city’s primary hostelry was the Bozeman Hotel, an imposing, rambling structure that dated from the 1890s. Though it was still the largest building on Main Street three decades later, the Bozeman was beginning to seem faded and out-of-date in the faster-moving twentieth century. The city’s civic and business leaders felt this keenly, and worried that the lack of an up-to-date hotel would make it harder for Bozeman to grow. The town needed a new, modern hotel. Their goal in mind, Bozeman’s leading citizens set to work. In 1927, a group of sixteen prominent Bozemanites, led by Eugene Graf, gathered to form the Bozeman Community Hotel Corporation, which would build the new hotel....