Coram Hotel (Hotel Libby)

Libby’s mining roots extended back to the 1860s, and after the railroad arrived in 1892, the town attracted additional investors. These included Boston capitalist James A. Coram, who thought the community was ready for a luxury hotel. Coram and his partners hired the Des Moines, Iowa, architectural firm of Liebbe, Nourse and Rasmussen to design the three-story building. Contractors broke ground in 1898. An economic downturn stalled construction, and the hotel stood framed under a three-story roof but otherwise remained unfinished for a decade. In 1909, local businessmen C. E. Lukens and John Town purchased the building. The creation of Lincoln County that year no doubt motivated their investment. Finishing the luxury hotel was part of a mini-building boom that also brought electricity, concrete sidewalks, and an expanded water system to Libby, as the community vied to become the county seat. Portland contractor and architect Guy Manning revised the original plans to add modern amenities. Completed at an estimated cost of $35,000, the Coram opened March 1910. Soon after, the hotel was renamed Hotel Libby, and the “show hotel” became the town’s social center, even housing Libby’s first bank and, later, the public library from 1923 to 1936. Between 1946 and 1949 many changes were made in an effort to update the hotel, including covering the original façade with locally produced siding and the addition of a neon sign. Prominent local artist Roy Porter was commissioned to paint three large landscapes that still grace the lobby today.

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302 California Avenue, Libby, Montana ~ Private