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'The cornerstone of Red Lodge': The Pollard Hotel celebrates 130th anniversary

An old room number at The Pollard Hotel
Posted at 5:14 PM, Oct 07, 2023

RED LODGE — A historic hotel in Red Lodge celebrated its 130th anniversary this weekend with a special party. The Pollard Hotel opened its doors in 1893 and has been a staple in the community ever since.

"It’s kind of the cornerstone of Red Lodge, I guess. It’s been here a long time and it’s kind of the hub of activity. It’s just a great, historic venue to enjoy,” said Mervin Coleman, a Red Lodge resident of 43 years, on Saturday. “It’s a historic building but it goes beyond the building. There’s just a lot of memories that have been built up here over the years."

Mervin Coleman
Mervin Coleman

It's an iconic location in the Red Lodge community, holding memories of the cowboys and Copper Kings.

"I think having Calamity Jane stay here is probably one of my favorites, but it’s just so cool of the folks like Buffalo Bill Cody and our locals, Liver-Eating Johnson, who spent so much time here," said Tom Kuntz, an owner and operator of the hotel, on Saturday. "But as well as like the Copper Kings, Marcus Daly, them staying in this hotel. It just shows the prominence of what Red Lodge was at one point and what Montana was at one point, which is really cool."

On Friday and Saturday, The Pollard Hotel celebrated its 130th anniversary in a unique way. Locals and out-of-town visitors were invited to party like it was 1893.

130th Anniversary Poster
130th Anniversary Poster

"Yesterday we had a really wonderful time showing off the newly remodeled guest rooms and suites. We had an open house. What that entailed was really just, come peak around. Come on in. Locals, visitors, people staying in the hotel,” said Eliza Kuntz, Tom's wife and an owner and operator of the hotel, on Saturday. “The Yellowstone buses are giving free tours that folks have signed up for. At five o’clock this evening we’re going to have live music in the Hemingway Room and have a big party.”

Eliza and Tom Kuntz have lived in Red Lodge for more than 30 years. They also own Bogart's, Red Lodge Pizza Company, and Carbon County Steakhouse. In Feb. 2018, they purchased The Pollard Hotel from its previous owner. Since then, they’ve worked hard to maintain the iconic spot.

Eliza (left) and Tom (right)
Eliza (left) and Tom (right)

"(The previous owner) had been watching us and really liked what we were doing, and really believed that we were the right people to, I want to say, save The Pollard. To help maintain it to its historical integrity," Eliza said. “Our employees work here because they enjoy the building. It’s not just the business, it’s the history of it. That’s pretty special, and it’s not something we have in our other businesses in town.”

The hotel holds great historical significance to the mountain town.

An old room number at The Pollard Hotel
An old room number at The Pollard Hotel

"It was the first brick building built in Red Lodge and the rest of the community actually formed around where they built The Pollard. So it was built by the railroad and the mine essentially and it was built as the center of the community," Tom said. "It has remained that for a very long time. So it’s been really important for us to honor that tradition in the community and make sure that it continues its legend and its legacy.”

It’s still going strong 130 years later, attracting visitors from around the world.

"It’s great to see people from all over the world come and visit The Pollard and visit Red Lodge," Tom said. "They just love our community and they love what our community has to offer. So it’s fun to see all the different people and all of the different places they come from.”

Guest book from 1902
Guest book from 1902

The Pollard Hotel welcomes visitors from near and far.

"I meet so many people which I would consider local from Wyoming and Montana, who have come here to come to the hotel. I’m more surprised by the locality of it than the folks who are traveling from around the world,” Eliza said. “This hotel is also successful because of the local community. We feel such amazing support in the community doing their part to help us make The Pollard successful... People in Red Lodge would be very sad if something happened in a negative way to this building. I just can’t say thank you enough to the locals or the Billings and Cody area that support the whole town, that allow us to support this building."

The Pollard Hotel
The Pollard Hotel

Red Lodge residents are grateful to know the historical landmark is in good hands and will continue to support the hotel that means so much to their community.

"It’s important to Red Lodge," Coleman said. "We’ve been so lucky to have people that have invested their time and money to keep it going."

To learn more about The Pollard Hotel, click here.