The historic Many Glacier Hotel in Glacier National Park is getting a serious facelift.
The National Park Service awarded a 13.56 million dollar contract on March 16 to Swank Enterprises of Valier, Montana, to correct remaining health and safety concerns within the National Historic Landmark Many Glacier Hotel.
The contractor began staging for the project on April 1, 2016 and will continue through December 2016, when work will cease for the winter. Work will restart on April 1, 2017 and is anticipated to be completed no later than June 2, 2017, in time for next year’s peak season and the 100th anniversary of Annex II. This work represents the final two phases of a seven-phase plan that has been implemented over the past 15 years, with significant components completed in 2005 and 2012.
The 211 room Many Glacier Hotel was built by the Great Northern Railroad starting in 1914. The hotel opened to guests on July 4, 1915, but Annex II was not completed until 1917.The passage of time, the evolution of stricter building codes for occupant safety, and harsh environmental conditions have contributed to its deteriorated condition. Considerable media attention and public interest was generated in the late 1990’s regarding the condition of this National Historic Landmark. Glacier National Park’s 1999 General Management Plan highlighted the deteriorated condition of the Many Glacier Hotel and other historic park facilities as a critical issue.
“Capital improvements in our signature historic structures like the Many Glacier Hotel help reduce our annual operating and maintenance costs and serve as a welcome sign to the next century of park visitors,” Glacier National Park Superintendent Jeff Mow said. “I know this project investment will pay dividends in the future for our guests.”
The 2016-17 construction includes all of Annex II, South Bridge (Breezeway), and the Lobby sections of the hotel, which comprise the southern section of the building. The fire suppression, fire alarm, plumbing, electrical and ventilation systems will be replaced within this section of the building. Additional work will address seismic stability, replace structural members, enhance accessibility, and abate hazardous materials. In 2012, a similar scope of work was completed for the northern portion of the facility, including the 100 guest rooms in Annex 1, the North Bridge (Interlaken Lounge), the dining room, the kitchen, and employee and maintenance areas.
WHAT TO EXPECT DURING CONSTRUCTION
During the summer of 2016, approximately half of the Many Glacier Hotel’s 211 rooms will be closed due to the construction. The affected rooms are located above the lobby and within Annex II. Additionally, the lobby spaces (including the deck and lake level areas) will be under construction and inaccessible.
Glacier National Park Lodges, the concessioner who operates the hotel as part of a NPS concessions contract, will be providing check-in and other guest functions in the Interlaken Lounge area. The front doors and portico will be impacted, and the main entrance to the hotel will be temporarily moved to the northern half of the building. Traffic patterns for arriving and departing guests may be altered but directional signs will be posted. The upper parking lot will remain available for guest parking.
While construction hours will be limited, work will be ongoing on the hotel during the entire summer season. Visitors will encounter some daytime construction-related noise, visible construction staging areas, and areas closed to entry. Dining, retail, and overnight accommodations will continue within the hotel, and bus tours (including services offered on both the historic Red Buses and by Sun Tours) will continue to arrive and depart from the hotel. Boat tours and horseback rides will be offered by Glacier Park Boat Company and Swan Mountain Outfitters from their operational locations near the hotel. Ranger Naturalists will offer evening programs at the Many Glacier Campground Amphitheater, though there will not be any programs offered within the hotel.
Restoration of lost historical elements are not funded as part of this project; however, separate funding was acquired through NPS Centennial matching funds, private donations, and entrance fee funding to restore the historic helical staircase between the main and lower lobby levels and to install the historic corridor lighting of Annex II similar to what was done in Annex 1 in 2012. The gift shop currently located within the lobby will be relocated to the lake level as part of the construction project.
In advance of the 2017 summer season, Glacier National Park Lodges will be completing additional upgrades, including replacement of select guest room décor and finishes, as well as the lobby and public area furnishings. Sixty of the guest rooms will be converted to “upscale” rooms with enhanced amenities. Additionally, the concessioner will be completing upgrades to the retail spaces (both the gift shop and Heidi’s) which, once completed, will both be located on the lake level.