Hotel Meade 2008-09

replica of Hotel Meade, high fire ceramic, redwood, glass, 20" x 20" x 9". 2008-09

Hotel Meade,Bannack, Montana. 1875

In 1864 when the First Legislative Session was held in Bannack, it was named the County Seat of Beaverhead County. In 1875 an impressive brick building was built as the first Beaverhead County Courthouse, but by 1881 the gold rush to Montana was history. The citizens of Bannack fought to keep the county seat, but in February of 1881 the Territorial Legislature called for a special election in Beaverhead County to vote on moving the county seat to Dillon. After a venomous battle, Bannack lost the bid and the county seat was moved to Dillon.

The large brick building remained empty until about 1890 when it was purchased by Dr. John Christian Meade for $1,250. Dr. Meade remodeled and turned the building into a plush hotel. It became the center of Bannack social activity and temporary home of many Montana travelers. A large kitchen, dining room and living quarters were added to the back of the hotel. The dining room was filled with tables to seat four or six and could be rearranged for larger parties. Beautiful white linens graced the tables along with fine china. Hotel Meade remained open for business for many years, abandoned at times only to reopen to meet the needs of Bannack each time mining activity in the area revived. The hotel operated off and on until the 1940’s.


Bannack is now a special Montana State Park perhaps on a par with larger Bodie State Park in California. Many wonderful original structures remain and unlike Bodie, can be explored throughout. Although the porch and balcony were not part of it’s original purpose as a courthouse, it was added in the 1890’s for its use as a hotel, and changed the character of the building. I loved the challenge of reproducing the railings and woodwork aided by diagrams from the Historic American building Survey. The diamond patterns in the railings were particularly fun to create. This often photographed building with its magical surrounding landscape just seems so familiar to me. Perhaps I lived here in another lifetime building in the past. Two other structures on my list of future projects from Bannack are the school/Mason’s hall directly across the street, and Skinners saloon which has a very interesting history.

photo by Paul Charron 2007

Additional information


from HABS diagrams














from Historic American Building Survey


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