elegant Hotel Broadwater and Natatorium complex was built in
1888-89 by Montana railroad, real estate and banking tycoon
Charles A. Broadwater. It was located just a few miles
west of the roaring gold-mining town of Helena, Montana, which
at that time boasted more millionaires per capita than any other
city in the world
on forty landscaped acres along Ten Mile Creek,
the 50-room hotel and huge natatorium opened during the week
of August 26, 1889. Construction of the project took one year,
and cost $500,000.
hotel was world-class, opulently furnished and fitted. The
spectacular Moorish-style natatorium was the world's largest
indoor pool, fed by over one million gallons of hot mountain
spring water per day. The grounds were handsomely landscaped,
with winding driveways, fountains and a private lake. Electric
trolleys took patrons to and from downtown Helena. The air was
clean, and the surrounding countryside was beautiful.
Yet, for all of that, the resort was destined
the waters" at hot-spring spas was
a Victorian passion, and was considered a
healthful cure for everything from scaly skin to arthritis.
Charles Broadwater sought to capitalize on this
fashion by building an elaborate resort in the Rocky Mountain
foothills. But, despite his remarkable business acumen,
he greatly overestimated the ability of advertising to draw
upscale clientele, via the railroads, to a remote corner of
the American West -- no matter how luxurious the accommodations
there might be.
untimely death in 1892 began a half-century of decline for the
project. It was alternately shuttered, sold and reopened
several times, never operating profitably for its owners. It
was finally destroyed by neglect..
hotel was permanently closed in 1941. The natatorium, damaged
by earthquakes in 1935, was leveled in 1946. In 1974, the salvageable
contents and architectural details of the decayed hotel were
auctioned off, and it was subsequently demolished.
pages present a brief overview of the man, the place and the
era -- now gone forever.