MONTANA'S HISTORIC HOTEL
A letter from the daughter of Thomas F. Pollard, owner 1902-1942
Certainly a great deal of excitement must have been generated with the construction of Red Lodge's first brick building in 1893. Originally named The Spofford Hotel, The Pollard was built between the train passenger depot and the booming town. Described by the Livingston Herald as "Handsomely furnished in hand-oiled pine, The Spofford Hotel cost close to $20,000."
My dad, Thomas F. Pollard bought the thirty-five room hotel in 1902, renamed it The Pollard and added twenty-five guest rooms, an ornate lobby, an intimate dining room, a lounge with a bar and card and billiard tables, one bowling alley, and full-service barbershop.
In the early 1900's, The Dining Room at The Pollard was praised for its excellent cuisine, and famous broiled lobster. The lounge had a beautifully carved mahogany bar and featured free midnight lunch served on a silver platter, up until the start of World War 1 and the looming great depression. I remember the holidays most, and the elegant Tom and Jerry drinking mugs we used to serve.
The Pollard's telephone number in 1903 was "1". My father told me, when the Bell people were arranging the installation of telephones in Red Lodge, one of the "higher up" men got himself into a little trouble one night and found himself jailed. My dad bailed him out and the "higher up" man was so grateful he gave my father and our hotel the first telephone number in Red Lodge.
The Pollard Hotel quickly gained national attention and became the west's gathering place for political, theatrical, cowboy, and business personalities. Famous names such as William Jennings Bryan, the known silver-tongued orator, and William and Marcus Daly, the copper kings, signed the early registers. Buffalo Bill Cody spent many an evening in the lobby swapping tales with local old timers. Calamity Jane would occasionally interrupt the quietness of the hotel with her, well, calamity. And Liver Eatin' Johnson, noted Indian scout who lived near Red Lodge, frequented our establishment.